googling "poems about death??"
December 19, 2014 9:13 PM   Subscribe

What's the name of this contemporary poem about death and uniqueness? Details I'm sure about: the poem was fairly short, fairly contemporary. It was about how upon death, the world would lose the small, unique details of a person (their laugh, way of speaking, etc.) and would have to remember them. It was literary and not too obscure. The mood was warm and melancholic.

Details I'm less sure about: the poem may have taken place on a stage or during a funeral, may have involved slips of paper, and was written by a man (first name "John"?). Doesn't seem to be John Keats, John Ashbery, or John Donne.
posted by glass origami robot to Writing & Language (4 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
"Perfection Wasted" by John Updike?

And another regrettable thing about death
is the ceasing of your own brand of magic,
which took a whole life to develop and market —
the quips, the witticisms, the slant
adjusted to a few, those loved ones nearest
the lip of the stage, their soft faces blanched
in the footlight glow, their laughter close to tears,
their tears confused with their diamond earrings,
their warm pooled breath in and out with your heartbeat,
their response and your performance twinned.
The jokes over the phone. The memories packed
in the rapid-access file. The whole act.
Who will do it again? That's it: no one;
imitators and descendants aren't the same.
posted by xyzzy at 12:33 AM on December 20, 2014 [27 favorites]

I'm sure this isn't what you're thinking of, because it's a song, but you might like "Past Due" by The Weakerthans for the same sentiment.

February always finds you folding
Local papers open to the faces
Passed away to wonder what they're holding
In those hands we're never shown the places
Formal photographs refuse to mention
His tiny feet, that birthmark on her knee
The tyranny of framing our attention
With all the eyes their eyes no longer see
And darkness comes too early, you won't find
The many things you owe these latest dead
A borrowed book, that check you didn't sign
The tools to be believed with be beloved
Give what you can to keep to comfort this
Plain fear you can't extinguish or dismiss
posted by MsMolly at 4:37 AM on December 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

xyzzy: yes!! Did you know this off the top of your head, or are you a very good googler?
posted by glass origami robot at 5:20 AM on December 20, 2014

I just thought of famous more modern poets named John and googled from there. :)
posted by xyzzy at 5:34 PM on December 20, 2014

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