A Self-Protesting Eulogy Penned By Shaky Guilty Survivor’s Hands (For Dan)

A Self-Protesting Eulogy Penned By Shaky Guilty Survivor’s Hands (For Dan)

What is a eulogy?
A eulogy is a poor summation
of a life far more complicated
and diverse than
words on a page
(even the kind ones
of which you are more than deserving,

A eulogy is a post-dated bad check
passed between shaky guilty
survivor’s hands and
that most crooked and
undiscriminating of merchants.

A eulogy is a love letter
an affidavit
a confession
(on the part of the guilty party–
the bereaved)
with postage that falls
one cent short
and will always
return to sender.

I don’t want to compose a eulogy, Dan.
I don’t want to compose a eulogy
for anybody
especially not for kids
particularly not for friends
and certainly not for you, Dan.

No, I don’t want to compose any eulogies
or construct poetic effigies
for kids cut short by the
short game, man.

I don’t want to think about
why it is
that some
in spite of their best intentions
make it through the
death wish looking glass
why it is
that some
in spite of their best intentions
get themselves mortally curbed
by the callous learning curve.

I don’t want to contemplate
mortality anymore, Dan.
Why should I have that right
and you
go so gently into that

Do you know what survivor’s guilt is?
What a stupid, silly, selfish question
that is.
Don’t you think so, Dan?
You should–
this isn’t about me,
although I wish it was
on some level.
I wish it was my eulogy
at the very least
not your eulogy
(or whatever it is
I am trying to convince myself
this is).

What is this, Dan?

This is a Johnny-Come-Lately substitute
for all of the things
I could have
should have
would have

This is a terrible, scattered attempt
at making sense of a tragic, senseless deal.

This is an inadequate gesture,
a total fucking hack job
at a goodbye,

Say Dan, how many inebriated bros
would you say we
headbutted together?
A lot,
but we butted heads a lot too,
didn’t we?
Oh, but so do rams
showing their affection,
don’t they?
I like to think they do.
I like to think we were, too–
affectionate, that is.

But I feel guilty, Dan,
reminiscing about the
self-destructive shenanigans,
you know?
They nearly killed me,
and it–
I can’t even write it, Dan.

But the beast that slumbers
in me
in you
didn’t it?
Who knows,
maybe it was responsible for
all of that headbutting.

I wish that I could put it to sleep
and wake you up
but I can’t.
I’m so sorry I couldn’t, Dan.
I’m so sorry I couldn’t
have taken that
ravaging rancorous monster
by its fucking throat
and ripped it straight out
of you
like a recalcitrant tumor.

I’m so sorry, Dan.

“I love you, little buddy.”
That was one of the last things
I ever told you.
I meant it
I mean it
I want it to mean more
to mean enough
to rewrite this whole
god damn last act, Dan.
Where’s a good
deus ex machina
when you need one, huh?
I can see you now
laughing at that one
and telling me where
I can stick
all those fancy college words.

You were right, Dan:
My fancy college words
ain’t worth a god damn thing
at least
not at this moment.
They’ve failed me,
and left me stranded here
with my survivor’s guilt
my self-protesting eulogies
my memories.

I suppose
all I have to say
I love you, little buddy.

R.I.P. Daniel DeCollibus (August 21, 1987 – November 3, 2013)


6 responses »

  1. Thank you for writing this, Sterling. As saddening as it was to read, I can only imagine how difficult it was for you to express this. It’s sentiment like this that helps me mourn the true tragedy and respectfully grieve the loss of a true friend.

    Thank you again for your beautiful words.

  2. Sterling, I only met you once but I can’t even begin to express how much your words mean to me and my family. My mom showed me this today and it brought tears to my eyes. That is so very touching. It brings us great comfort to know than Danny was loved by so many great people. Thank you again for such a wonderful tribute to my baby brother.

  3. Thanks for your follow of Heart of Life Poetry. Your writing is to me the special kind that gets read two ways at once. It grabs me in the gut and heart, and at the same time, my mind marvels at your way with words. Thanks for sharing your gift.

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