A dear friend has just died very suddenly. We were talking to him last week and he was found dead the next morning. Hard to believe he’s no longer here.

This poem is for you Fr Joe. RIP

In the dayroom of our life,

In the midst of our clutter,

There stands an elephant.

And no matter whatever

Distractions we employ,

To evict it, we just can’t.


This elephant is Death.

Occasionally it trumpets,

But mostly stays silent.

Open our eyes and its there:

So we resolutely squint,

And live for the moment.


Blinkered, we build up

Our nests and our nest-eggs,

Supposing time has no end.

Our guest may move about,

But it will never depart.

On that we may depend.


We think we’re immortal,

Or perhaps better to say,

We fail to think at all.

We may scoff at beliefs,

Proud of our rational stance,

But we act… as eternal.


All the while Death remains,

And every now and then he

Crashes into our awareness,

As someone we know dies,

Perhaps after illness, or

With appalling suddenness.


Then is our cosy world rocked,

Our blinkered eyes forced open,

As we reel and stumble about.

Then do we know shock and fear,

And thoughts of God interrupt

Our long established doubt.


With time the fright subsides,

And domestic lull restores,

But the beast is lurking still.

Perhaps we redouble our

Secular constructions, but no

Insulation removes the chill.


Will this elephant ever depart?

Will clever science defeat him?

Or we drug out our final days,

Preferring to anaesthetise life,

And somehow camouflage him,

As we croak in pleasant haze?


Should we make friends with Death?

Accept that he is part of life?

We are born to live, yet die.

Once a man was born – to die;

His death broke Death’s finality,

And gave Death’s sting the lie.


The elephant is in the room;

He’s roared a mighty bellow,

And we miss a dear good friend.

He’ll stay in my earthly room,

Until one day he roars for me:

But he won’t get me in the end.