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About this Poem 

"The poem is absolutely autobiographical. It just took me thirty-five years to write it."
—Ron Koertge

Sky Burial

Q.  You’re Such a Disciplined Writer.  Were You Always That Way?


A.  When I was in graduate school, I worked part-time at a local
library.  I ran the used bookstore in the basement.  The money 
came  in handy.  There was plenty of time to study. 

I learned to know the regulars who talked about living with pain 
and waiting for bland meals to be delivered.

One sweltering afternoon I read about Tibetan body breakers 
who dismember corpses with their hatchets and flaying knives 
so the vultures will have an easier time.

I imagined my own body and the monks asking, “What did this 
one do?” And the answer would be, “Not much.”  As the hand I 
could have written with flew away from the wrist. 

Copyright © 2014 by Ron Koertge. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on March 19, 2014. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2014 by Ron Koertge. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on March 19, 2014. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Ron Koertge

Ron Koertge is a young adult novelist and the author of numerous poetry collections, including Olympusville (Red Hen Press, 2018), The Ogre's Wife (Red Hen Press, 2013), Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses (Candlewick Press, 2012), and Indigo (Red Hen Press, 2009).