I'm not afraid of dying;

I do it every day


I am afraid of leaving;

of business unfinished

knowledge unlearned

thoughts unuttered

words unread

moments unnoticed

love unexpressed

time unspent

life unlived

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You can live through five deaths

before breakfast and still be waiting

on the side of the road, eyes

peeled for that black sedan speeding,

bringing death to self,

death to dreams,

death to Death

playing hide and seek behind

headstones wearing flower crowns-

life adorning decay in greenbrier,

in sweet honeysuckles.

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The Dearly Departed

Do the departed observe us from heaven above?

Or are they much closer, those that we love?

Is the veil between worlds impossibly sheer?

So those who we've lost are actually near?

In death as in life, our hearts in their hands.

And present in ways we cannot understand.

Karri Temple Brackett

May 23, 2023


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It was once said that

death is nothing at all

but it is

it is final


life changing, literally

When you die

you pass from here

with me

to there, I'm not sure where,

but for me you move to a memory

a feeling, a photograph

Death is everything

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In joy, I feel light

and dark tussle, life dying

makes my heart sing and sink

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Death. The word opens the floodgates

Of emotions and secrets and feelings unknown,

tears dammed up behind concrete denials,

and the need to be present, calm, strong.

I thought of you, enigmatic classmate, teammate and friend,

the blank, empty look in your eyes,

your spirit vanishing right before our eyes,

on that morning we heard the news.

It was clumsy and stupid, the way the powers

stumbled through the news of four young deaths,

their leadership lost long ago to their hubris and ineptitude,

all of us left to fill in the gaps after” Mark, Grady, Glen and Tim are dead.”

Only one remained to tell of that night,

wild pleasure turned to madness to sadness,

deep shadow lake through hot stringy woods,

your recollection gone silent as the morning dawned.

You did not come to practice that Monday afternoon,

two days later, nowhere to be found in school,

by the end of the week it was if you were never here.

swept away in the haze that always held your gaze.

We never spoke again.

only a faint and fading glow,

where your slender formed once crouched,

ready to devour each grounder that came your way.

None of us in those days knew the words to say,

mouth opening with no coherent sound.

Now, fifty years later, news of death still fresh,

only now can I say I miss you.

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In our culture death can be

…shhh…a dirty word

Something to hide from and

pretend will never happen


it is transpiring all the time

Yes, pun intended!

A lot of effort is put into extending life

But at what cost?

For it mostly lengthens the dying

Quantity over quality

And death is scary and vulnerable

Loss a tremendous grief

All the more reason to make

friends with death

To know that there truly is no living

when running away from the dying

Death comes as it comes

No pleading, compromising or begging will change that

No reciting facts and statistics will alter its arrival

Death comes, just like life comes

Death exists because life exists

Life is continuous because death makes that possible.

We see this again and again

Simply, in our own lives with every loss and change

that makes space for something new

Every autumn as the plants

whither, die and decay

Becoming the nutrient packed fertilizer

for the new sprouts of Spring

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This prompt has had many forms and revisions today. I have been challenged and surprised by where it has taken me . Thank you Kaitlin and the others that have shown me support here

Death: a Conversation


let me introduce myself

I realize you think you know me

maybe you do

we have been travel companions

for quite some time

though I must admit

I just realized it today

but that is the way

you like it

you have been in my abusers

and my trauma

you have been in my

triggers and responses

you have been in people

that have judged me blindly

and in me the times

that I do the blindly judging

you have been in my

frustration and anger

my desire for influence and fame

all of the lusts of my false self

can be attributed to your sway

each time my call

is corrupted from its

purest form

you have a stronger foothold

into this world of the living

which is a distortion

of your calling

now, returning to my introduction

I am,

despite a trip (or a few)

to the threshold

between life and you,

a survivor

a resistance fighter

I have been studying

and thinking about

the suffering you cause

I have grown wiser

and more caring

even as we continue

our journey together

I recognize you

for who you truly are

more importantly

I am aware of

who I am

who I was created to be

and I know that

I may not have been

my fullest version

of my created self


the distorted version of you

of the you that tries

desperately to exist

with authority

over the living

I am grateful for

what I have learned

and how I have

grown because of you

but now

the rest of my years

must be lived in

the valley of shadow of you

and no longer

constant travel partners

though one day

hopefully many many

years from now

I will join you in

your natural calling

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Death, where is thy sting?

confronted with that, I've been






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Some days it takes awhile for the prompt to spark something, other days like today, it was immediate. One limitation of substack is it does not keep the spacing I have or allow for any formatting which makes it hard for a rhyme.


Prompt: Death

A friend’s cat died today,

Her children were distraught.

It is okay to not be okay,

In a world full of fraught.

When you are sad, you are sad,

Grief is a part of this journey on earth.

Feeling that way doesn’t make you bad,

Nor is it a measure of your worth.

So sit awhile with your feeling,

Ask it what it might require,

It is a start to the healing,

As you linger by the funeral pyre.

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as the end draws near

the thin space opens the door

to see what matters

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It was right outside the perverbial door, and knocking loud.

we were huddled around Ed,


nelson was whispering in his ear,

something about "your legacy".


his spirit screams silently.

right at me. right thru me.

I could smell his breath.

So the "church man" of the family cries wee wee wee and ran all the way home.

And I am good with that.

Peace to you, my friend ed.

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This prompt moved me a lot today. I'm grateful for the time to sit with the memories and energy of some loved ones who have passed away, and for the inquiries that are arising as I read the poems shared here <3 Thank you, so much.





It’s silent when I utter it in the emptiness.

Not sure if I should be afraid or patient,

It’s hard to tell.

But what’s there to tell?

What else do I need to put in this space

If it’s simply empty?


I take a moment and a breath,

Chewing the contemplation.

Just like fear,

Death agitates my nervous system,

But just like fear,

I can still stand beside the thin veil of its borders

And be alive.




I’ll be honest, I’m not used to this space


But it’s not a shortcoming. It’s not a deficit.

Wherever I am in my death dance,

I still have my love

And I trust myself.

I say I don’t know death, but Death says

It knows me.

It invites to peer into its sweet waters,

(Didn’t see it coming)

Into a well of wistful wonders.

I find it effortless to pass through the veil…


Like stepping into my own surprise party,

I am delighted by who I see

And just how much I love.

My worlds and worlds are gathered here,

Smiling as they ever have upon me now

To remind me how bright and light and whole

I am

They are

We are

In life and in death.

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keep your cats close

'cause I'm curious

about the prompt word process


all set ahead of time

with precise prosaic planning

or are the poetic prompts

prompted by the poetry?


Life does not depend on the answer

but cats might rest more easily

if curiosity was laid to rest.

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Life is not interested in Death at All

In fact, Life doesn’t know what Death is

Life only knows Life as it should

And Life sees itself as being Good

Western culture has given Death a bad name

While in Eastern places it’s not the same

Eastern Philosophy teaches the Tao

How to not fear Death by living in the now

How to connect with the entire Universe

Living with all, seeing yourself in everything

So that one day, when your time here ends

You gracefully join the birds as they simply sing

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Wow, Kaitlin, thank you for this. I love the way you challenge your notions of death, and dare to keep the questions unanswered, not fully understood. I feel like I am an amateur of death, but seeing words such as yours above make me more passionate about humanizing and finding ways to relate to it.

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