Sunday, November 10, 2013

Day 10: Elegy 1 for Jack London

I'm catching up today so I had to write two poems in a day.  This, the second, is about the tragedy of Jack London's death.  Yesterday, I finished Earl Labor's biography Jack London: An American Life which (expectedly) ends with Jack's tragic and early death.  Every time I read about his death, about the months leading up to is and the ailments he suffered, it's like watching a friend die.  It's awful.  It's especially awful because from the perspective of modern medicine, his ailments seem dire, but fixable.  Had there been an ambulance or an ER, or even an earlier diagnosis of Lupus (what biographers like Labor think he suffered from his whole life), he might have lived.  Here is a draft of my poem written on the prompt: "When you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras."

Elegy 1
When you hear hoof beats, think draft horse, think barns
hewn of unmatched stone, think silos standing
up against mountains (still after 100 years)
think cactus without thorns think oak leaves think
the whisper of creek think path to a dried
up pond think how cool the water once was
Think stone rolled over an urn. Think poison oak tall as trees
Think the ranger who said the Miwok ate
the leaves to cure themselves of the poison

Think blue ribbon think Sacramento State Fair
think from his window he could see fireworks
too ill to leave the hotel (think Lupus, undiagnosed).
Think how to pass a cure from here to there?
Think only days left. Kidney stones. Unable to eat.
Think the body gathering what it can't let go.
Think last words think Charmian's desperate plea:
Mate, please don't leave me. Think smile, then gone.

2 comments:

Unknown said...

Iris. Your writing is touching me in the depth of my soul. I felt as if I was present with Jack in the moments of his passing.

Unknown said...

Iris. Your writing is touching me in the depth of my soul. I felt as if I was present with Jack in the moments of his passing.