The Flea

Courage is resistance to fear,
mastery of fear–not absence of fear.
Except a creature be part coward
it is not a compliment to say it is brave;
it is merely a loose misapplication of the word.
Consider the flea!–incomparably the bravest
of all the creatures of God,
if ignorance of fear were courage.
Whether you are asleep or awake
he will attack you, caring nothing
for the fact that in bulk and strength you are
to him as are the massed armies of the earth
to a sucking child; he lives both day and night
and all days and nights in the very lap of peril
and the immediate presence of death,
and yet is no more afraid than is the man
who walks the streets of a city that was threatened
by an earthquake ten centuries before.
When we speak of Clive, Nelson, and Putnam
as men who “didn’t know what fear was,”
we ought always to add the flea–and
put him at the head of the procession.

— Mark Twain, “Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar”

goodbye

Just nine days before her thirty-second birthday
her short, beautiful life came to an abrupt end
early morning call; come quickly: too late there
fingers so limp in life now begin to stiffen
soft brown eyes become fixed on unseen horizons

Her name was Katerina. Went by Katie less often Kat
she reached out through her blog as “katsscribbles”
undaunted by confinement to life in a wheelchair
a warrior whose feats live on in her poetry and art
always eager to strive for that far away destination

she was my friend and confidant, she was my daughter
her passing leaves a terrible emptiness in my life
I ask myself “why Katie and not me?” and I cry
she was young and vibrant while I am getting old
as the song says “Farther Along” we’ll understand why

I loved you in life and I still love you in death
goodbye my daughter I’ll meet you in Paradise

Death of A Friend

I heard his final gasp
that long gurgling sigh
followed by a spewing
like a tire leaking down
a few thumps and clicks
followed by a death rattle

I remember those good times
we spent together for years
since our first joyful meeting
all those times he carried me
during bleak winter mornings
one warm cup after another

I feel a strange sense of loss
as I ponder should I replace
this friend who has succumbed
to ravages of time and neglect
always faithful day or night
Alas, my friend is no more