Monday, April 11, 2011


It's likely you don't want to admit this but . . . when someone you've known (in a friendly/naked way) dies . . . after some time has passed, you think of their body and wonder what percentage of the good parts are still intact.

Then you think how you were once in close contact with these body parts which are now, no doubt about it, in the decomposing process.

With new coffin technology (I'm sure there is such a thing and that it's always improving) this process is probably delayed somewhat. Still, no computer program or super sealant made by NASA can stop bodily disintegration. That's a fact of life. Or death. However you want to think about it.

I told my guy friend Chuck that sometimes I think of this big barge of a man who used to come see me in my last dog days of NY, and who died sometime after from liver failure.

Chuck told me he that sometimes he thinks of this blonde flower of a girl whose mother hung herself and who, soon after, moved across the country to hang herself.

I explained to Chuck (at the time that we had this conversation), "It's almost been a year so there's probably nothing left by this point. But I don't know how fast these things happen."

Chuck said, "I used to think about that, too. But it's been 20 years. She's definitely nothing but bones by now."

I asked Chuck if he thought the conversation was deranged and disrespectful. But he said no, because he's convinced everybody thinks such things--they just won't admit it. And obviously, if we're still thinking about these people (and fondly), they've influenced our lives.

"And anyway," he said, "don't you want someone to think about you after you die?"

"Think about my decaying . . . uh . . . body?"

"Better than nothing," he said.

Then we went back to sipping our coffee at McDonald's on Chicago Avenue.


I know I've been talking a lot about death lately and I don't mean to be gruesome but I'm totally obsessed with bog bodies.

Imagine this.

It's 1950 and you live in a tiny village in Denmark. You're just cutting peat for your little stove. Suddenly, your wife calls you over like "OMFG Viggo! Check out this face in the peat layer! This guy musta just got wacked!"

Who have figured he's a human sacrifice victim? He looks so peaceful! Doesn't he look like he just tied on his little bonnet for a long winter's nap? And he did--in 4 BC.

My greatest wish is that when I keel over, my dead body just so happens to fall into a bog so somebody can find me some day in their backyard in 2,000 years.



  1. I totally know that the "bog" Stevie Smith is referring to is not the same as the kind you're talking about, but it doesn't seem entirely unrelated, so:

    Stevie Smith - Our Bog is Dood

    Our Bog is dood, our Bog is dood,
    They lisped in accents mild,
    But when I asked them to explain
    They grew a little wild.
    How do you know your Bog is dood
    My darling little child?

    We know because we wish it so
    That is enough, they cried,
    And straight within each infant eye
    Stood up the flame of pride,
    And if you do not think it so
    You shall be crucified.

    Then tell me, darling little ones,
    What's dood, suppose Bog is?
    Just what we think, the answer came,
    Just what we think it is.
    They bowed their heads. Our Bog is ours
    And we are wholly his.

    But when they raised them up again
    They had forgotten me
    Each one upon each other glared
    In pride and misery
    For what was dood, and what their Bog
    They never could agree.

    Oh sweet it was to leave them then,
    And sweeter not to see,
    And sweetest of all to walk alone
    Beside the encroaching sea,
    The sea that soon should drown them all,
    That never yet drowned me.

  2. I love this poem! I've never read it before.

  3. I will loan you my Collected Stevie Smith next time I see you! She's great.