Thursday, May 14, 2009


Okay! Now that my dearest HB is back weaving magic on her own blog, I'm temporarily holding on to the poetic life.
I love writing poems. When I feel deeply they come easily. But not for the past half year. I've probably been afraid to put words to my emotions, maybe because they need to settle before I take an honest look at what's happened and why. Maybe because I want to honor what was and not tarnish it with words too raw or unknowingly hurtful. But there has been a period of two plus years when I couldn't stop writing poetry.
The following poem is possibly my favorite. At the time I wrote it my beloved friend Willa had just (unfairly) died, and I was in reverent awe at how she lived her life and how she said goodbye. And I was thinking of a few certain people I so loved, knowing then as I do now that I will carry them in my heart for all of my days.
And in thinking about all this then, I found myself astonished. That is what I was most aware of as my fingers hit the keyboard of my laptop. Today, despite whatever insecurity I have as a writer, the truth is I hope you like this poem. I hope you like it because it means a lot to me.

If I were dying tonight,
Lying in my bed with plastic tubes and half-filled bottles
on the small table nearby
and bedpans and oxygen there to diminish any shame,
Perhaps forcing my breaths
with the strength of a desperate parent
who implausibly and frantically lifts two tons
of mangled steel off a broken daughter—
If I were dying tonight and I wished to tell you
What will astonish you,
I would tell you this:

Be sure to notice white flowers in the moonlight,
Because the softened glow is like no other.

Appreciate the lingering scent of garlic on your fingers,
Because healing is possible from that alone.

Tell the truth when it matters least
Because then you will be sure there is another honest person in the world.

Always spend the extra money for dimmers
because light that builds in intensity and then gently fades is
good for your spirit.

Over and over, ask yourself, “What is the lesson here?”
Because then you will forever be a student and never a victim

Never believe for a moment that the world is going to hell
Because you only need to love outside yourself to know better.

If I were dying tonight, I would tell you all this
Because astonishment is brethren to curiosity,
Which leads to observation,
And dedication,
And finally appreciation.

If I were dying tonight, perhaps there would only be minutes,
Perhaps only seconds,
To tell you that I will leave with all the love
I have ever felt, and ever given.
I will take it all with me, tucked under my angel wing—
The accumulation of grace from every breath I have ever taken.

Here’s what’s astonishing: I will also leave all that love behind,
It will be embedded in my daughter’s stunning light and my partner’s quiet
It will guide my friends and coworkers when the layoff comes.
My brother will remember how I tried to do my share
And Joey will find someone else like me to help him tame his fears.
Even the woman at the grocery store that day I let her go ahead of me—
will remember how we were both comforted from that simple act.

If I were dying tonight, I would also tell you
That within, under, because of, and from the little moments
Comes all the wonder and astonishment you could ever hope for.
The little moments that aren’t so little.
I would tell you to let those moments astonish you.
I would tell you this because it is all you need to know.


  1. "tell the truth when it matters least",,,,my favorite line from this beautiful work.

  2. kj this is really amazingly beautiful. I love it and in particular I love this:

    'that I will leave with all the love I have ever felt, and ever given. I will take it all with me, tucked under my angel wing—'

    Really kj this is spectacular.

    Love Renee xoxo

  3. so heart wrenching and lovely, thank you kj...

  4. Thanks a ton.. i LOVED this poem and u made my day!

  5. All of the aphorisms imparted to the healthy from the dieing lead up to that stunning last line. I had to let this settle on me for a few read through's KJ and each time more and more of the scene and awareness opened up. It is good, very good.

  6. This poem makes em think that perhaps we should be passing along what matters most to us to hose we love most, now and not just when we are dying.

  7. KJ...

    I am speechless. That is most elegant, honest, and lovely poem I have ever read. Tear in my eye sitting at work in a dark cubicle. You have taken what I think everyone feels and put it in the best possible words. Wow...LOVE IT...Im speechless....

    Sonia ;)

  8. I strike my attention:

    Over and over, ask yourself, “What is the lesson here?”
    Because then you will forever be a student and never a victim

    I love this, we need to be renewed & learn the new things everything.
    Then, only we are well equipped to face the world challenge!
    Happy Saturday and Sunday KJ!

  9. KJ, that is a lovely poem, clearly from the heart.

  10. babs, i like that line too... thank you.

    renee, thank you so much.

    wolfie, what else can i say? thank you too.

    how do we know, always nice to see you here.

    walking man, your opinion means ALOT and is growing every day. you are an amazing poet and i am honored by your compliment.

    cs, yes, now....

    aww, sonia, thanks so much. i am so glad the poem touched you. it hits me that way too.

    yoon see, those lines are the ones i tell myself the most. love to you.

    hello debra kay, thank you as always. might be time for me to start writing from the heart again.... xo

  11. your magic lies in your talented and i am loving your book, it is so touching and sad...sigh...
    i would love to send you an african piece of mine, it would be my honour to do so....let me know if you would like one

  12. "Because astonishment is brethren to curiosity,
    Which leads to observation,
    And dedication,
    And finally appreciation."

    We all need a daily dose of astonishment*!*

  13. she says she's leaving
    she dead and us living

    and i wonder how there might be an absence
    when everything is a sign of her presence

    she touches flowers, people and the moon
    she shows us how truth dances to love's tune

    she never leaves; she is always in view
    she keeps coming back to us with
    each word we know anew...

  14. This is indeed a wonderful, beautiful poem and it is true, every word. XOXO

  15. Lovely kj and you know I'm one of these Philistines that really isn't a fan of poetry. Strange because so many blogs I visit and enjoy are actually poetic. And I love that you acknowledge a simple act of kindness to strangers will be remembered. We have more impact on the lives of others than we'll ever know.

  16. soulbrush, would i like an african piece of yours??? are you kidding? (kj trips over the chair in front of her reaching for keyboard). that is such a generous offer i don't know what to say. YES! I'D LOVE IT!

    i need your address too. i'll email.. xoxox

    bimbimbie, funny you chose those lines: i felt like a 'real' poet when i wrote that.

    hb, so nice to see your words soaring high again. :)

    annie, thank you.

    baino, every action and reaction counts, doesn't it? thanks for taking the time to read my poetry. you know i appreciate that. xoxo

  17. kj I'm glad you had a wonderful day full of all the people you love the most.


  18. Wow, that is terrific, such superb words about a touchy subject like dying.
    Superb, after all, dying is a part of life.

  19. The love and beauty that embodies you shines through in this beautiful poem.


  20. thanks dear kj...
    i was inspired by your great poem... so poignant and powerful!

  21. KJ, your words were astonishing. And at the same time, very comforting. Beautiful, beautiful words, like waves of soft blue undulating in the breeze. And I love to smell the lingering aroma of garlic on my fingers. How did you know.

    There is a theory that the basis for humor is surprise, or astonishment. We laugh at jokes that astonish us in some way, and laughter is always good to carry in your heart.

  22. renee, thank you dear. i wish good days for you every day.

    peter, you probably would be surprised to know how often i think of you, and how fondly.

    lo, one WOW from you is worth a thousand pictures (haha, my attempt at being funny but i think i didn't pull it off!)

    love to you, hb.

    bella, me too about the garlic. i smell my fingers and feel appreciative! i love the word 'astonish'. and nothing like surprise sneaking up behind so all you can do is laugh. i am quite sure you are one fun girl to hang with... xo