Today I am sharing a new video of my poem, The Last Hours, published in my most recent poetry collection, ‘You Better Be Lightning’. As this newsletter will mostly discuss the final words of that poem, I’m going to suggest you watch the video first so I can avoid being my own spoiler. I’ll pause for a minute to let you do that.
Ok, I’m back! Wow, did I miss you! I hope you enjoyed the poem as it’s one of the more tender pieces I’ve written in my life. I don’t have the best memory but I recall every detail of that night in 2005. I sat in that summer garden listening to my new girlfriend describe her grandfather’s last words––how he had nothing to say except, “love, love, love, love, love…” On the precipice of death, a man I’d never met spoke the words that reminded me what was most important in life. It was everything. It was everything in the world to hear that, and I’ve no doubt it inspired the writing of the line, “Everything but I love you is small talk.”
People have argued with me about that line over the years. But their arguments tend to always support my point. Most of the time what people feel is important to say in addition to ‘love’ is also something loving. Even if it’s angry. For example, “LGBTQ people demand equal rights!” is often spoken with a lot of anger, but that kind of anger is, of course, love.
As I was sitting with this poem today, I got curious about other people’s last words and went on an internet expedition in search of some loveliness I could send your way. Here are some of my favorite last words that are currently cuddling my heart.
“You are wonderful.”
“I’ll finally see Marilyn.”
And just to end on a light note–
“Damn it! Don’t you dare ask God to help me!”
Oh Joan, I hope god and whatever else is out there helped you anyway. And thank you for the laugh. I cherish reading people’s last words because they are often very clear roadmaps for living. Couldn’t we all be guided by what we expect we might say if we had only a second left to say it? Since my cancer diagnosis this question never leaves me. I find I have a lot more to say that is loving than I had before. To paraphrase Michael Singer—I want every moment that passes in front of me to be better because I was there. And the way I’ve found to do that is to speak as much as I can from a place of love.
And I truly love that the final words of my longest book are, “I’ve written so many poems in my life. And every single one of them was just trying to find a better way to say what one soul said to another soul with one word. Isn’t it amazing that I came up so short? Isn’t it everything that I tried so hard and failed to write a single thing more beautiful than ‘love’?”
May all the sweetest words find their way to you today.
Forever & Ever,
. . . .