Death, or: Taxes

An American sentence:

She fears our deaths and hers; with forced humor, I play down their likelihoods.

What’s an ‘American Sentence’?

Allen Ginsberg, inventor of the American Sentence, felt that the haiku didn’t work as well in English. Ginsberg decided to remove the line structure of the haiku, maintaining the requirement of 17 syllables total. He felt that removing the line count freed the American Sentence up for the idiosyncrasies of English phonemes.

The requirements:

  1. Composed in one line;
  2. Syllabic, 17 syllables;
  3. Condensed, written with no unnecessary words or articles;
  4. Complete sentence or sentences;
  5. Includes a turn or enlightenment.

Let’s write poetry together!

When it comes to partnership, some humans can make their lives alone – it’s possible. But creatively, it’s more like painting: you can’t just use the same colours in every painting. It’s just not an option. You can’t take the same photograph every time and live with art forms with no differences.

Ben Harper (b. 1969)

Would you like to create poetry with me and have a completed poem of yours featured here at the Skeptic’s Kaddish? I am very excited to have launched the ‘Poetry Partners’ initiative and am looking forward to meeting and creating with you… Check it out!

20 thoughts on “Death, or: Taxes”

  1. David,
    The fear of covid deaths thrust on our children is the worst thing that has happened. May it not steal their childhood: they need us to keep it all in perspective. This American sentence says so much: humor forced or not is a step towards proper orientation of our thoughts.

    1. Dorah, you’re so right. In truth, we’re not worried about COVID in this particular case…. but it’s been a rough several days here regardless.


  2. Now that I have retired I cashed out my life insurance policy. Death and dying used to be a more fearful certainty…. I think every good parent worries about dying and leaving a family struggling financially. And of course losing a child is the stuff of nightmares…

  3. A land naught but real,
    A void of uncertain spate,
    Home to all martyrs,
    A void of unknown fate.

    Not a very great verse, but yeah, Death is a curiously uncertain devil 🙂

  4. Play down and get on with living. They will always be there.
    Render unto Ceasar
    Oh Death where is your sting

    1. Abi,

      This is something I’ve been thinking about… I’m going to dedicate a longer post to it (maybe today, not sure yet…), but having lost my own father earlier than anyone had expected, it’s hard for me to smile to my child while talking about death, knowing that any one of us could die at any moment.


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