Adam Niswander is a friend of mine. He is also a comrade in arms as a Veteran of Vietnam.
He is the author of numerous books in The Shaman Cycle, a series of Southwestern Supernatural thrillers that feature the twelve tribes of the Southwest and include entities from the Cthulhu Mythos cycle created by H. P. Lovecraft.
He is currently in Hospice care at the Veterans Hospital in Phoenix and has been sharing his experiences with his friends on Facebook. Every now and then, he graces us with some poetry and has graciously allowed me to post them here and they will appear in Baryon Magazine and the website as well.
No one knows how much time we have on this Earth and Adam's time is winding down. He is sharing his time with us and showing all of his friends the grace and dignity he faces each day.
Thank you Adam, for being my friend and allowing me to share this with others.
This posting is Copyright 2012 by Adam Niswander and is printed by permission.
Strange. I am dying and one might think I’d have something beautiful to say about it.
But sitting here in my hospice room doesn’t seem to be causing the muses any discomfort.
They are snoozing quietly.
The words going through my mind are not flowery.
Of course, they are just words.
They aren’t my last words.
They probably aren’t my best words either.
But they are my words.
I have had some time to think. And I have thought.
I have had some time to write. And I have written.
Some right now are probably wishing I would shut up already.
What can you say as you watch the sands of your life run out?
Maybe that you wish they weren’t running so fast.
Or that you could keep up with it.
Sands in an hourglass, from one globe to another.
I would like to leave some wisdom behind,
some kind of written piece that would cause people in the future
to read the words and say to themselves
He was a wise man, that Niswander.
But I think that may be a bit foolish,
kind of the opposite of the intent.
Should a death poem rhyme?
As the sands run out
there is no time for doubt.
If unknown now,
will I suddenly understand how
to capture words profound?
(Or would they have a hollow sound?)
Is there an answer to the riddle?
Or am I doomed to fiddle
Until I’m dead
With wondering what lies ahead?
The questions can be asked
In simple terms without the need to rhyme.
And the answers found
will not be less impressive
simply because I didn’t clothe them in a pretty phrase.
Is death friend or foe?
It seems to me that it is both,
for it will come for me
whether I welcome it
or struggle to escape it.
No matter that I can tell a tale better than some,
for this story does not require the suspension of disbelief.
It is simple truth.
I lived a good life.
Not everyone can say that,
so I feel fortunate.
I found mates.
I was not old-fashioned enough to seek only one and stop.
I went down a path until it ran out,
and then crossed untrodden ground to find a new path.
When that ended, I hopped and skipped to yet another.
I shared uncertainty.
I took risks.
I made choices.
And I learned that choices hang around with consequences.
(Is one a bad influence on the other?)
I knew physical pleasures,
and discovered that real life survived all those little deaths.
I did not make a baby.
I chose not to.
I weighed the positives and negatives
and chose selfishness over responsibility.
It was possible I might regret that choice,
but I do not.
I am content to leave something else behind,
Dreams and visions set to paper
before the eyes of all who wish to see them.
Is it better to leave words than flesh?
I know how my words turned out.
I did not have to wait to see how they might develop.
They sprang from me full grown and realized.
Does a parent know as much?
I have been loved.
But I have seen disappointment in the eyes of some who loved me.
I was at times a miserly man, keeping the best of me for myself.
Yet there were some who loved me unconditionally, unreservedly.
To them I was perfect in the midst of my flaws,
perfectly flawed in my perfection.
Do I think there is something beyond this?
Do I believe that I will rise again in some way
and live again (or still)?
Yes, I do.
I do not believe that the complexity around me
was born of chance.
I do not believe that the light of mind
Is extinguished just because the body stops.
I do not believe that consciousness requires form,
that beauty disappears when eyes no longer see.
Could I be wrong?
Does that frighten me?
What is the worst to fear?
That there is nothing up ahead?
I do not fear nothingness.