By: Renzo Del Castillo
I am the stroke of a sword
Swift, powerful, and deadly
Tearing through flesh for the will of the mob
Until my own heart is hacked away
I am the sand of the arena
Rough, dry, and blood-stained
Trampled on by a thousand sandals
Lusting for the next kill
I am the amusement of the Caesar
Cheap, loyal, and expendable
Catering to his visceral whims
At the cost of my humanity
I am not a man
Free, unshackled, and valued
Able to live among other men
With the ability to choose
I wonder if,
in the generations to come,
a man’s life will still be bound to the thumb of Caesar.
Eulogy (Narrative Poem)
Why do we die? This question has haunted me from an early age, around the time of my grandfather’s death. Death had never seemed so real, or impactful, until it hit close to home. There is of course, the scientific explanation: Our bodies give out on us. Age will rip and tear at our carbon vessel until life can no longer be sustained. Maybe a disease was the catalyst in our departure from this world, or maybe some tragic accident mangled our bodies to the point where our essence quickly ebbed away into the unknown terrains of death. Bottom line, we are organic creatures, made of material that wastes away, corroding into nothingness.
This leads us to another question: Is death merely a passage to some sort of afterlife? The faithful across the board speak of “God’s plan.” Our deaths are caused by a higher purpose and our reward for being good or our punishment for being evil awaits us on the other side of the chasm. We die because God in his, or her, great wisdom has a better design for the human condition.
To look at this question from a purely emotional angle, we must consider the trauma caused by immortality and why this makes living forever unpractical. If the entire population were immortal, then life would become a monotonous routine, a maze with no exits. None would find rest from the endless grind of the day-to-day. Now, if only some people were immortal and not all, then these poor souls would have to live while their loved ones passed on, assuming of course a deep emotional attachment to family and friends. Either scenario causes emotional trauma for the immortal population, making immortality unpractical.
From an environmentalist standpoint, an immortal population would waste resources at an alarming rate, causing the simultaneous death of every other species and the environment. If we were, in fact, immortal, starvation with no death in sight proves to be an unpleasant prospect. The inclusion of death as a part of life ensures the maintenance of resource usage at a moderate rate, ensuring a longer life span for the human species. It could be said that death brings life to our children and so on and so forth.
The reasons as to why we die are many. There are countless theories and hypotheses created to explain this phenomenon. Perhaps all of them are correct, perhaps none are. The only clear conclusion to be had from all this pondering is that death is an inevitable part of life and that it will be continued to be studied and explained for as long as reason and man live as one.
Guess what? Mary got married and left for Spain,
What do you think of that? I hope that she’ll convince
John that the beard isn’t working for him.
Do you know that I can’t stand tomatoes anymore?
Not even dipped in hot Swiss Miss chocolate at 4 am,
Amid reruns of Kojak. It makes me feel gross.
Does it bother you that your father walks less
And eats more these days? He has this little bulge of a belly
That makes him look like a rope with a knot in the middle.
I wonder if my mother is getting that cough of hers
Looked at, don’t you? It kept her up at night, staring
At the bed that still ferments my father’s humidity.
A Winter’s Tale
I think that I will die in Gainesville in the winter,
When snow refuses to set hand or foot.
God has turned into another statistic
Begging for change on University,
Where students congregate around the bus stop
To see cars sputter past the pizza place.
Among the Quick-e-Mart’s selections, random
And scattered groceries, I stood transfixed
Watching row after row of frat boys march
Past the scar-faced man asking for a buck.
I handed him the dollar they would not
But kept the other twenties for myself.
Ernesto Del Castillo is no more.
Outside the Quick-e-Mart the marked man stands
Without a sweater covering his frame.
He hopes that honesty will improve his luck
And he holds up a sign for all to see:
“I’m not about to lie, buy me a drink.”
Renzo Del Castillo was born in Lima, Peru. He came over to the United States as a child in order to further his education. Mr. Del Castillo graduated from the University of Florida with a B.A. in English specializing in Victorian Literature and an M.A. in Mass Communications specializing in Intercultural Communications. He has spent the last 10 years working in the healthcare industry as an IT professional. Mr. Del Castillo is an aspiring poet, essayist, and author.