Funeral

He was a colleague to most here,
friend to some.
Husband to her

who sits in the front pew
unpropped by offspring,
all alone

but for the three
who come with death:
grief, anger, shaken faith.

He died in his sleep.
She woke to find
the bed deserted, yet not empty.

He was the second
of our classics teachers
to leave us in just a couple of years.

The second also who died
of insides eaten up
by something. What

we none of us dare ask.
Better to look away
from glowing red eyes in a cave.

We think of him
but also of ourselves:
When and where and why?

Out of nowhere,
the beast will come to claim us.
Out of nowhere

an angry voice starts inside my head,
louder than the organ music,
louder certainly than

the shuffling of ageing feet.
Punk-rock shrapnel,
shards of lyrics,

there in my head,
totally unfitting and
unignorably clear:

“a light to burn all the empires”
“in love with all of these vampires”
“the sharpest lives are the deadliest to lead”.

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5 Responses to Funeral

  1. What a tribute, Roland. And, oh man, how often do we ‘… look away / from glowing red eyes in a cave …’

  2. I love the way you take the ending in a different direction – those seemingly inappropriate thoughts we have at such moments. I really like this one.

  3. Kallis says:

    I think “classics teacher” triggered the “empires”. The last line is from the same song and I felt that was intereting – bringing out the potential rebel in a man who had always dressed immaculately but, as we learned by and by, not been all that conformist at all.

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