Poems about Reminders of Death and Mortality

Updated on July 23, 2016
Death's reminders can be found in our everyday lives.
Death's reminders can be found in our everyday lives. | Source

Poems about Parts of Life and Living that Remind Me of Death and Mortality

I've written many poems about death and dying, as have many, many other people. However, some of the poetry I write is not focused on the death and dying itself, but deals with parts of life that remind me of the fact that everything dies or that people are dying needlessly.

I created this page for my poems about situations, observations, and experiences from my everyday life that make me think about death, dying, and mortality. As time goes by I'll add more related poems and content to this page.

People on autopilot from breath to breath,

inhabiting life rather than living it,

wandering heedlessly toward death

taking what comes, never giving it.

Memento Mori.

Remember death,

so you can remember to live.

— Kylyssa Shay
A homeless veteran in New York
A homeless veteran in New York | Source

Stop Killing the Soldiers when They Come Home from War

Becoming homeless is a bit like getting conscripted into a war over resources. But the horrible, horrible twist is that you don't get conscripted into the army to fight for your society, you get declared the enemy and there's no "other side" for you to defect to. You are isolated and kept hidden, dehumanized by those who decided you were the enemy and a useless eater.

There are no bombs or grenades and seldom any automatic weapons involved; instead it's a slow war of attrition waged with indirect tactics. This puts the killing and the horrible aspects of war even further removed from the soldiers fighting against you than remote weapons do. There are few embedded reporters to get news out from the trenches and much of what they can report doesn't happen fast enough on film and can't be captured with a cell phone camera.

The state of homelessness is a state of being under siege. You are cut off from food, shelter, and a place in society. You are the war refugees of siege by elements of your own society. It's brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, parents against children and vice versa.

Actual soldiers, physically and emotionally wounded by serving their country, all too often find themselves in a new war once they come home, one they aren't equipped to fight. We need to stop killing them with poverty and neglect when they come home. We need to stop fighting our own defenders.

Stop Killing the Soldiers

Attention friends and neighbors,

set aside your labors.

There's a siege upon your soldiers

and it's nowhere near the borders.

It's right there rubbin' your shoulders.

Go ahead and follow orders-

the closer to the war you'll be,

with so much more for you to see.

Women with stars on their chests

and purple hearts upon their sleeves

do their ultimate of bests

but the memory never leaves.

Conscripted into the ranks of the homeless

by living avatars of greed

telling them to be hopeless

and laughing at their need.

Walkin' down main street

I see another soldier

shaking a tin can, playin' to a beat.

He just keeps gettin' older

no matter how he tries

slow and steady always wins that race.

Eventually he dies,

not even a smile on his face.

not even a drop of blood on his sleeve

not even a trace of gunshot residue

no evidence, not a single clue

but he died in combat

and he died fighting you.

I know you've got your orders,

but what is worth fighting for?

Shhhhh! We're not supposed to talk about death.
Shhhhh! We're not supposed to talk about death. | Source

I Hate the Sound of Coughing

The bark of air from struggling lungs

hounds deathbeds and homeless shelters.

It rings across tiled floors and stutters on stone walls

in hospitals and alleys.

It's the sound of a being fighting to live,

lungs striving to make room for air itself.

It sounds like practice for the death rattle,

the gasp, and the moan.

I hear the pained kick of heels in it and

the slow, leaden hot pain

of being eaten alive by one's own cells.

It's a reminder and a warning

like a hound's broken, belling call cut short by a gunshot.

Death is near and not just inside you.

It's inside everyone you love,

many of whom you'll outlive

and none of whom you'll completely survive.

Many experiences and situations that are part of living are inextricably linked with death.


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    • Mark Tulin profile image

      Mark Tulin 

      22 months ago from Santa Barbara, California

      So true. Death and living are inextricably bound.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I gravitate towards dark. Not sure what that says about me but I enjoyed them both.

    • Parimalpolymath profile image

      Prabhat Parimal 

      4 years ago from India

      I liked the first one more than the second.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma

      It's a real punch in the face when one goes along enjoying life, and something, no matter how small, reminds us of our own mortality.

      Everything that lives dies, and contrary to popular reasoning, I can not see a sense or grand design in many of the deaths.

      Anyway, I prattle on. A great idea for a site, and I have always enjoyed your writing and continue to do so. This is a rich, albeit draining, topic, but I look forward to seeing what truths you can suss out of it.

    • Linda Robinson60 profile image

      Linda Robinson 

      4 years ago from Cicero, New York

      Hello Kylyssa love these, very heart felt and lots of sentiments behind the words in the poems. Extremely well written and the many emotions while reading that are stirred. Look forward to reading much more of your creative hubs. Linda

    • Kylyssa profile imageAUTHOR

      Kylyssa Shay 

      4 years ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

      We can't reduce unnecesary suffering and death unless we acknowledge its existence. I also feel we can't fully appreciate life unless we recognize its transitory nature and accept its intimate relationship with death. Thank you for sharing your insight.

    • Missy Smith profile image

      Missy Smith 

      4 years ago from Florida

      I really loved your poems Kylyssa. Yes, they were dark, but they were honest and recited in a empathetic tone. I felt your need to express the reality of war. For a lot of soldiers the real war begins when they return home.

      I'm also drawn to dark art in writing, with paintings, with anything of that sort artistically. I think a lot of people don't want to know the truth of the dark part of reality, and think we should think happy thoughts and express happy thoughts all the time. However, this world is full of death and inhumanity, so before we can live in that happy life, others will need to stop shoveling the bad under the rug. I think your poetry expresses this well.

      Homelessness is such a sad position to be in and the fact that our soldiers went to war believing they were going to help us, then have to return to extremely unfair conditions is absolutely absurd. It's heartbreaking a lot of our vets struggle and are dying off in this way. Not in the perils of the war they were sent to but the one they return home to.


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