Russell Rowland, Newspaper Obituary

Russell Rowland

died Saturday, surrounded by

You had me surrounded. Oh my god:
no opening in the circle, no escape
back into health. For the death of me,
I’m not convinced that even a segment
of your lachrymose circumference
loved me as much as the obituary claims.

after a brave battle with

I did not battle, and I was not brave.
I submitted, in fear and trembling, to
all the incomprehensible, polysyllabic
diagnoses, the poisonings, irradiations.
You just assumed it was heroism—so
you wouldn’t need to be strong for me.

predeceased by

Fine word. The bastard beat me to it.
He left me without important papers,
without any chance to forgive and be
forgiven—left me bodily, having left
ages ago in spirit. His legacy includes
a dent in sofa cushions. A hair stain.

In lieu of flowers

Don’t mock me with flowers. Give
to The Society for the Prevention of
Upstaging the Corpse. Flowers betrayed
me all my life into believing there is joy
forever, eternal renewal. Don’t you dare
contact the florist. Let me rot in peace.

Author’s Comment: The poem imagines a woman of strong character, reacting posthumously (and with bitterness) to the sugarcoated obituary her survivors have prepared.


4 thoughts on “Russell Rowland, Newspaper Obituary

  1. I truly love this. I imagine if those we have lost could talk to us now, they would say…why did you only remember me when I left this consciousness. Excellent poem ! It stirs my emotions.

  2. Russell, I wouldn’t consider trying to make this poem “better.” It is better as is – a good one in all ways.

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