Thursday, September 14, 2006


This is W.H. Auden, on the right, with Chris Isherwood on the left. Circa 1939.

(For Hedli Anderson)

Ladies and gentlemen, sitting here,
Eating and drinking and warming a chair,
Felling and thinking and drawing your breath,
Who’s sitting next to you? It may be Death.

As a high-stepping blonde with eyes of blue
In the subway, on beaches, Death looks at you;
And married or single or young or old,
You’ll become a sugar daddy and do as you’re told.

Death is a G-man. You may think yourself smart,
But he’ll send you to the hot-seat or plug you through the heart;
He may be a slow worker, but in the end
He’ll get you for the crime of being born, my friend.

Death as a doctor has first-class degrees;
The world is on his panel; he charges no fees;
He listens to your chest, says-“You’re breathing. That’s bad.
But don’t worry; we’ll soon see to that, my lad.”

Death knocks at your door selling real estate,
The value of which will not depreciate;
It’s easy, it’s convenient, it’s old world. You’ll sign,
Whatever your income, on the dotted line.

Death as a teacher is simply grand;
The dumbest pupil can understand.
He has only one subject and that is the Tomb;
But no one ever yawns or asks to leave the room.

So whether you’re standing broke in the rain,
Or playing poker or drinking champagne,
Death’s looking for you, he’s already on the way,
So look out for him to-marrow or perhaps to-day.

Written by W.H. Auden, in the book, As I Walked Out One Evening; 1976

“Life is pain, princess. Anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you something.”

The hero, Wesley, from the film The Princess Bride.

I realize the above poem and quote are a bit on the grim side, but I’ve had a bit of a rough week and they seemed appropriate to my mood. Labor Day Weekend has come and gone and that leaves only the fall to look forward to. Speaking of fall, I took a pretty bad one on Saturday night. The wife left her purse on the floor and I didn’t see it. With my right foot, I stepped into one strap, and with my left foot, stepped into the other. I fell face-first with all the grace of a Clydesdale trying to climb into it’s own saddle. I hurt my foot pretty bad and have hobbled around for the better part of a week. In the fall I wrenched my already hurt shoulder that I pulled a muscle in earlier in the week. So, I’m limping, my arm and shoulder hurt, and no amount of over-the-counter pain killers seem to help.

To top it all off, I caught a bad cold and have been stoned out of my mind on cold medicine. I alternate from sweats to chills and can’t seem to keep any one thought in my head for more than three minutes at a stretch. I hobble from the bedroom to the kitchen, only to forget what it was that I was getting up to get, then hobble back, only to remember that it’s time for my medicine. I think that this might be like what old-age and senility must be like.

The grass goes uncut and the laundry undone. My backyard is starting to look like a nature preserve because I don’t own a riding lawnmower, and I don’t manage the stairs to the basement very well. Even when I get a load washed and dried, the pain of folding it is awesome.

The neighborhood had a great time at the Tiki bar on Labor Day, but my life has taken a definite kick in the teeth since then. I got a new job, but I haven’t quite worked out how I’m going to be able to get to it since the wife blew the engine in her car and has been driving mine.

I’ve been watching Monty Python to try and cheer myself up during my convolescience, but even that doesn’t hard stir a chuckle. Oh well, life is pain, and anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you something.



  1. My goodness! You must feel like crap. Let me know what I can do to cheer you up.

    Congratualtions on the job and tell me when you want me to cut the grass.

  2. Jay-suss. What a fortnight! I think somethings going through the collective unconscious-- ask Flann about our refugee who's on her way up heah; everything except the bol weevil has hit her.

    what's the job, BTW-- somehow we missed connections on that one... As for needing a car, as Flann would say, 'word.' we've been a 1 car family for about 6 months and with school starting everyone I USED to carpool with has moved closer to school and now the whole damned fambly has to arise early to drive my ass in to work and pick me up. Gas is killin' us.

    Sounds like y'all need a BEER, me friend!!

    Meanwhile, you need to read the Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett. In this world Death is an actual, corporeal character who's just another workin' stiff doin' his job. HERE is a link to the series of books. I think they're right up yo' alley...

  3. AH HA!! here's the link I was looking for:

    a nice article on the character of Death in Discworld. You might also like the Auditors of Reality and the Death of Rats.

  4. BO: I thought I read "Death at Disneyworld". Now there's a story...


Write your beer-fueled ravings here...