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  • Writer's pictureJack D. Harvey

Timor Mortis

We make him dress up,

hooded cloak, scythe and skull,

the Grim Reaper,

put a name to it

sinister slapstick

to cover the skeleton he is.

Furtive footsteps,

heard but not seen

in the wooly uncertain night,

in the darkened hospital ward,

in your last agony;

he's always eager for our passing

to sate him, bate

the restless life around him;

his petty noise in your delirium,

the ghost of sound,

echoing against old men’s ears,

against the baby's tiny shell of an ear,

against the nightingale's sweet

voice, captivating;

all these and others competing

for your last glimmer of attention

on your way out.

When he comes, when he comes,

the soft schuss of a shot skier,

making his lone descent.

These sounds and your last movements,

pure and simple as moonlight

and the trees bending in the wind

come together, foretell the end,

one way or another

peaceful, resigned, painful, brutal,

in our midst, death, like clockwork,

regular and familiar as the morning sun.

Even in the last extreme

hardly ever do we say "enough!"

and mean it,

grasping for one more day,

one more blink of an eye,

one more good green spring,

we continue to hope,

until cut to the quick,

stopped cold,

we hear his voice say come

and away we go,

leaving all we know behind,

departing for whatever

eternity holds of emptiness,

of death, of nothing,

of even less than nothing.

Limitless, hidden beyond horizons

the gape of the unknown;

at the end of the road

undisclosed forever what fate

that fearsome spectre,

voluminously berobed,

that everlasting mystery

holds for all of us

in his bony emphatic hand.


Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, The Comstock Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Typishly Literary Magazine, The Antioch Review, The Piedmont Poetry Journal and elsewhere. The author has been a Pushcart nominee and over the years has been published in a few anthologies.

The author has been writing poetry since he was sixteen and lives in a small town near Albany, New York. He is retired from doing whatever he was doing before he retired.


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