Die Right - Poem About Death and Forgiveness

Is Death Always a Time to Forgive?

“Die Right” is darker than what I would have normally written in the mid 1980’s—which was when this poem was written. I took an “Imaginative Writing” class, a class that disappointed me and influenced me to veer from the original path I had chosen for myself. I changed my major from English, and I gave up the dream of writing. When I wrote, it was by myself, for myself, and the end result was kept in a notebook or thrown in a box.

I was young, and perhaps naïve, and my poems and short stories that I submitted at the time probably reflected that mindset. Out of frustration to please my instructor, I wrote “Die Right,” and Mr. Will-Remain-Nameless-Writing-Professor liked it. He actually liked it. So, I knew I could produce what someone wanted if I needed to. Now, 25 years later, I will share it. And I will encourage anyone who wants to write, who wants to pursue any kind of dream, to go after it. Go to others who have a sense of what you can do…and listen to them. I’m not saying that everyone who wants to write is going to be that good or that successful, but if you have the desire and you work at it, who knows where you might go with it? Get some honest feedback from other people. And keep writing, if that's what drives you. But don’t let one person—one professor, in my case—crush your dreams and send you off into a totally different direction. Here is the poem that he liked.

Source

Die Right

I want to die right,

Dad says,

Coughing and choking in his own

Phlegm.

I look at him.

I see the strong man he used to be.

I stare at my misshaped arm.

I choke with the love I don’t feel.

I wish it had been different,

Dad croaks.

Had a hard life.

Lots to worry about.

I see the old broom;

I see the hickory switch,

Clear in my mind—

And his big, hard, hands.

He stops talking, weakened.

His suffering is great.

Don’t worry, Dad, I whisper,

You’re dying right.


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Comments 25 comments

Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 5 years ago from Near the Ocean

Raw and real, of course he liked it, and so do I.


saddlerider1 profile image

saddlerider1 5 years ago

Is there really any good way to die Right? Death is death no matter how we die Right? some go kicking and screaming and some just close their eyes and take their last breath.

Most don't want to die in pain, but with all the medications they have on the market now, you can virtually have the cocktail of your choice. But is there a way to die right, nah I don't think so right?

This was a fair poem to get you in the mood for Poetry much later down the road, glad it did. Look at you now:-)


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

This is quite good, Victoria Lynn.


Lord De Cross profile image

Lord De Cross 5 years ago

Was taking my time in answering to this piece of poetry:

My own dad died 6 hours before I made it to him and he died in his own right. We all have our borrowed time in this earth and will depart eventually. Depending on the way ife treated you and how you did treat life, you will get your own ways of seeing that day coming... in your own right.

LORD


sonia05 profile image

sonia05 5 years ago from india

A very thought provoking poem for sure! If I were asked this question...whats dying right for me?....I think I would simply want to embrace death without being dependent on anyone,without being bed ridden,without being ill for long! Dying in sleep would be nice but I guess no one knows how and when death would strike!

Thank you for sharing!


Tanmoy Acharya 5 years ago

After long days I read a good poem.The words you chose are simple,the thoughts are clear--this is the most difficult thing to achieve in poetry.

Beautiful poem...


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Raw and real, huh? I like that description, Randy!

Saddlerider--good to see you! Yeah, I don't know if there is a way to "die right." Something else to ponder.... My attempt at this one was to convey the speaker's anger at the father, and his feeling that his father's pain and suffering were deserved and thus he was "dying right"--in the grown child's eyes. Anyway, not sure if I achieved that, but it is what it is. I appreciate your stopping by and commenting. Always a pleasure to hear from you!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Thanks, WillStarr!

Lord de cross...I think you're right. Everyone will get their own way... in their own right. You said it well.


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Sonia, I agree with your thoughts on death. Thanks for stopping by. Good to see you again!

Tanmon--thank you very much. I appreciate your comments! Nice to hear!


femmeflashpoint 5 years ago

Randy's description of raw and real hits the mark.

It is exactly that, and it's very, very good.


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Aw, femme...thanks so much. Means a lot!


epigramman profile image

epigramman 5 years ago

..absolutely brilliant write! And this piece strikes home close to my heart - my dad (best friend of my life, as was my mum) died of cancer - not a very nice word or experience - they found it and he died within 3 months - he was a Canadian soldier for 6 years in World War II so maybe that made him tough at the end - but yes this is a personal story brought on by your great writing here - and your story too!

So glad we met 'cos you're really good at what you do!

lake erie time 11:10pm ontario canada


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

Your story on writing is very interesting.

My grand aunt is 101 years old and I see and feel this poem every month I visit her.


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Vinaya--you are back!! I was so sad when you seemingly disappeared. So glad to have you back. I enjoyed your poetry, as well, and was pleased to read your comments on mine. Welcome back!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Epi, I see how this poem could go along with your "Continuity of Life" poem. So sorry for the loss of your dad. And thank you for your kind comments. I'm glad we met, too. YOU are incredible at what YOU do, and I can only hope to rise to some semblance of the talent that you share with all of us!


Hear Me profile image

Hear Me 5 years ago from Somewhere in Florida

After working for a local hospice for 3 years, I learned that death was a unique experience to the one dying. Those that closest to the dying can either get consumed in their own emotions or provide comfort to those in the final moments. It is a hard and selfless act to utter the words "Don’t worry, Dad, I whisper, You’re dying right." Your words reflect the love of a son for his father. Good writing!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Hear Me--thanks! I think death is definitely unique to each person...and unique to the families who go through it. Thanks for your comments. Much appreciated.


sweethearts2 profile image

sweethearts2 5 years ago from Northwest Indiana

What goes around, comes around. Good or bad death reaps its own rewards or punishments. Maybe we should live our life as if we are dying (I think that's a song). Dark but holds meaning. Well, written


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Thanks, sweethearts2. What you say is true. And you're right--that's a song....I appreciate your comments.


Brenda Durham 5 years ago

Victoria Lynn, I totally agree the poem is raw and real! Very effective. But I, unlike the professor, do not like it! Don't take that wrong, 'cause I don't mean to distract from the talent it shows, and I don't mean it badly, okay? I just mean that it seems to be about a one-sided unforgiveness and vengeance and doesn't address the subject of the afterlife (for either the "dad" or the son). But that's just me---I always relate things to whatever happens after death.

It leaves me with the question of what the "dad" meant by "dying right". Was he in the frame of mind of wanting to die immediately? Was he regretful of the abuse he had done to the son and therefore asking for a chance to be forgiven?

You said you were trying to please your professor when you wrote it, and that it crushed your dreams.?

Here's my feedback---use your gift the way you want to express it, not the way any professor or anyone else wants you to! The poem, while very good, is...empty...(that's the only way I can think of to describe it)...empty without your whole heart being put into it. The only line I see that's morally challenging is "I wish things had been different".

Ask yourself if that's what you would write if you weren't pressured by someone else. Wait. Not "what" you would write, but "all" you would write.

It's still very good! Rated UP and interesting and beautiful for it's raw content. ((But see, I think it could be AWESOME if you poured your whole heart into it).

I could be totally off-base on this critique, so please just ignore me if you wish. You've gained a follower, though, 'cause the whole content of the hub w/poem is one of the most interesting I've read.


Brenda Durham 5 years ago

Oops. I already was a follower of yours, it seems! Sorry. I can't keep up with all the hubbers I follow and their content. But you must've been interesting before now, else I wouldn't have followed you! haha. Glad I found this hub.

Blessings, Peace!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 5 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

Brenda--Interesting comments! Perhaps your not liking the poem is my success! haha--Because what you describe--"one-sided unforgiveness and vengeance" was exactly what I wanted to portray--not what's after death, or what forgiveness could bring or anything else, but what has happened and how it has affected the speaker. I wanted it to express raw and real feelings. Perhaps in that way I succeeded. I'm not sure what else I would add, but I do appreciate your comments. I'm glad it inspired you to comment so thoroughly!

As for the professor, I have finally gotten past his words that sent me in another direction. I realize that I may have enough talent to pursue my dreams of writing. I just have to DO IT!

I'm glad you found this hub and are following me again! haha. I have a hard time keeping up with those I follow, too. There are so many interesting hubbers and I don't have time every day or even every week to read all of them. I need to see if I'm following you, too! Thanks again!


DanielNeff profile image

DanielNeff 4 years ago from Asheville, NC

In regards to the discussion about writing to please others, writing what you like, pursuing your gift, I would say this:

I belong to a writing group that contains many gifted members of tremendous discernment. We discuss a short story every week and then members can read what they are working on and receive feedback from the others. What I have been struck by is the variety of taste, what different people like and think is good. Invariably, we will have stories or readings where some people like it and some people don't. We vote on the best stories every six months, and the same story will appear on both "favorite" story lists and "least favorite" story lists.

The worst thing you can do as a writer is try to please others. The old saying, "You can please some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time," really does apply to literature.

To be successful as a writer, you have to believe in what you write and disregard the critics. Of course, at the same time, you have to be open to constructive criticism in improving your gift and fine-tuning your work.

I sincerely believe that if a person has a strong passion to be a writer, he/she has the talent to be a writer. It is just a matter of putting in the time and effort to bring it out and polish it up.


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

DanielNeff--I like what you said about believing if a person has the strong passion to become a writer, then it will happen. I have to believe that. I was young when I had that experience with the writing professor, so maybe I needed the guidance. I don't know. I just know that I got away from writing for a long time. I'm glad I found my way back. Thanks for the great comments!


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA Author

PatriciaVogl--Thanks for the comment. That makes me feel good!

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