I am pleased to have the poem “Koi Pond” appear on Josephine Corcoran’s website today, in good company alongside many other fine poems. It is dedicated to the memory of the remarkable Ken Jones, whose presence and writing near the end of his own life touched me deeply.
Tonight Val and I got to spend some time with Ken Jones, a friend of ours who was also a fellow resident during the nearly four years I lived in the seminary. He is now receiving hospice care in his room, lovingly supported by his wife. When we entered the room, he was arranging a music play list for his memorial service from his hospital bed, his glowing MacBook Pro resting on the over-bed table. Ken has also been blogging about his journey with cancer, and what now seem likely to be his final days with us in this world.
Western writing often treats death in fiction, but rarely have I read the words of an author knowingly in their final stage of life. Yet there is a longstanding tradition in Zen, practiced by monks and samurai alike, of writing death poems. The best of these poems capture the essence of one’s life, turning an aesthetic and philosophical gaze upon the often taboo subject of death. It occurs to me that this is similar to what Ken is doing with his blog.