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.
I want to die right,
Coughing and choking in his own
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,
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.