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About this Poem 

“In writing my new book The Do-Over, which is an exploration of death, I became aware of a subgenre of medieval English poems that begin with the first line Timor mortis conturbat me—the fear of death disturbs me. I wanted to write one, because it does. Also, I like counting syllables.”
Kathleen Ossip

"I'm afraid of death"

I’m afraid of death
because it inflates
the definition
of what a person
is, or love, until
they become the same,
love, the beloved,
immaterial.

I’m afraid of death
because it invents
a different kind of
time, a stopped clock
that can’t be reset,
only repurchased,
an antiquity.

I’m afraid of death,
the magician who
makes vanish and who
makes odd things appear
in odd places—your
name engraves itself
on a stranger’s chest
in letters of char.

Copyright © 2013 by Kathleen Ossip. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on May 3, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2013 by Kathleen Ossip. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on May 3, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Kathleen Ossip

Kathleen Ossip

Kathleen Ossip is the author of The Do-Over (Sarabande Books, 2015).

by this poet

poem
Go

It is a cube, it is red, it is mountainous,
it is a bird of fire, it is the bones of the pelvis, it is a walnut,
it is treasured. It is yellow Saturn wobbling in its orbit.
It is danger, squawking.

It is the desire to sit down with strangers in cafes
and then it is the strangers in cafés,

2
poem

To dream of your ardor
is much joy and much happiness.
Your ardor tells me that
I am making a mistake
by not taking hold of what
is offered to me.

What I mean when I say
“your ardor” is stenciled on
the air that surrounds
your big face. The force
of your ardor

poem
                                             Craft is a synthesis: thought in the service of
                                             understanding. Think hard in order to open to
                                             understanding: that is craft


K. was hungrily made.

K. is an American creation.

K