This poem reminds me of a scene in one of my favorite Bill Murray Films called The Razors’ Edge. In it Murray’s character, Larry Darrell, witnesses the death of his friend and commanding officer Piedmont. Cradling his friend in his arms, he launches into a speech that assaults Piedmont’s character and curses him for dying. The reverse eulogy was touching, the underlying humor and sentiment palpable. It was even more touching to me when I found out that Bill Murray wrote that speech into the script as a farewell to his friend John Belushi who had just recently overdosed. He was holding Piedmont but talking about Belushi.
Angel Gonzalez, I think, captures the same feeling in her poem below. The same reverse eulogy, the same ironic sentiment and humor.
Diatribe Against The Dead
The dead are selfish:
they make us cry and don’t care,
they stay quiet in the most inconvenient places,
they refuse to walk, we have to carry them
on our backs to the tomb
as if they were children. What a burden!
Unusually rigid, their faces
accuse us of something, or warn us;
they are the bad conscience, the bad example,
they are the worst things in our lives always, always.
The bad thing about the dead
is that there is no way you can kill them.
Their constant destructive labor
is for the reason incalculable.
Insensitive, distant, obstinate, cold,
with their insolence and their silence
they don’t realize what they undo.
— Angel Gonzalez