Death Rattle

She sits four rows back from the altar,

watching Jesus,




Her eyes tear up looking at him,

her brow scrunches,

she swallows a lump that isn’t real.

On his neck, folds of skin are bloody,

the loincloth covering his genitals,

smeared and dirty,

twenty-nine thorns in his crown.

She tries to imagine if he looked into the eyes of the man

before him – as blood wept down his face.

When the nails pushed through skin and muscle,

did he cry out? Did they crush his bones?

She wonders – did he sound like Grandma.

“It’s called the death rattle,” Aunt Lisle said.

“Lets people know what’s coming.

They expect the dying.”

Body sagging from his wrists,

would he have noticed?

She’s not sure,

but doesn’t know who to ask.

From where she sits,

she can’t tell if his eyes are open;

when she takes communion she focuses on the floor, chanting:

“Don’t look, don’t look, don’t look.”

If she looks, and they are open,

he might understand.

Instead, she counts the cracked tiles.

Father Thomas’s eyes speak to her of hell,

loudly – every time he looks at her.

Father is going there according to Mother;

Mother belongs there with him according to her.

She lights a candle,

prays: “Not there, not there, not there.”

But makes her way home nonetheless.


This poem was published online at Asylum Poetry Magazine, with 2 others of mine. If you wish – click on the link:

Lots of great poetry by New Zealand poets and some beautiful photography as well. This issue of the magazine showcases a lot of emerging talent in New Zealand. I am proud to have been included.

This is my poem for Thursday Poets Rally Week 47 (June 30 to July 6, 2011) hosted by Jingle and fellow Promising Cafe officials at The Promising Poets Poetry’ Cafe.

I got The Perfect Poet Award for Week 47. Thank you. It is greatly appreciated !!

The Perfect Poet Award 4 Poets Rally Week 47

The following is my acceptance poem:





figure to

children of the Gods.

Animal – spiritual – two

natures united– Chiron,

child of two races.

Mix the best

of both.




I would like to nominate – A Lonely Yorkshireman.


40 thoughts on “Death Rattle”

  1. Jo,
    I really liked the respect, belief and fear within your words.
    Having faith, even when in fear of the earthly worries, or the fear of not believing.
    I have been there myself………
    Thank you for visiting my Blog. I have added your Blog, to my list too.
    Best wishes, Eileen


  2. i like ho wyou conveyed the feelings that christ has felt when he was hanged on teh cross, what other person can ever be in this position and not know whta it feels like when his being crucified when he has done nothing but proclaim the name of his father..what a wonderful inspirational poem.


  3. She wonders – did he sound like Grandma.

    “It’s called the death rattle,” Aunt Lisle said.

    “Lets people know what’s coming.

    They expect the dying.”—Amazing!


  4. That is a graphic poem, Jo. Its power held my attention until the end. I see you are writing a novel – mine came out in January (as an indie), it is an interesting road to tread so long as you remember the other life and the other people around.


    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment. it is a favourite poem of mine so comments like yours are appreciated greatly. Yes I am working on a novel. Your advice is good – and I do try to keep it in mind. I am blessed with amazing friends and children who are incredibly supportive, but do drag me back into the real world whenever possible. 🙂


There are two things I know for certain. One: Bert and Ernie are gay. Two: I want to hear your opinion.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s