They’ve come to take me home

For Kerry’s prompt on Real Toads, How does it end? Write a last line. Build your poem around it. Use it as the title, a line to be repeated, use it. She read an article with five suggestions to use a last line. I picked option number four, use the last line for a title. warning: graphic suicide verbiage in poem

They’ve come to take me home
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s OK. The journey changes you; it should change you… You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” Anthony Bourdain

No one knew his thoughts
as he stepped off the edge of the tub
and fell into infinity,
the tie around his neck,
his legs kicking,
the breath being cut off from his heart and brain,
his last thought as his heart lurched and stopped –
*you can keep my things, they’ve come to take me home.
It had been building through the years –
Depression deepening,
The spaces between pure laughter
and love of life widening.
One day, he did it.
He ripped off a tie from the hanger in his closet.
He tied it around his neck
And then to the shower rod –
you can keep my things, they’ve come to take me home.

* line from Solsbury Hill

WE CAN ALL HELP PREVENT SUICIDE. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. 1-800-273-8255

35 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Shawna
    Nov 08, 2018 @ 14:38:11

    This is a horrible, horrible, horrible thing to say — but if I blow on the shower rod, it collapses into a heap on my floor. So where do I get one as strong as his?

    Reply

    • kanzensakura
      Nov 08, 2018 @ 14:57:51

      This happened in France where the. Hotel baths have lovely huge showers and tubs and high showerhead and rods.

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  2. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Nov 08, 2018 @ 16:33:28

    Suicide is such a terrible end… and I just wonder how the journey goes on? … at least it means leaving something behind.

    Reply

  3. Pat: willow88switches
    Nov 08, 2018 @ 20:07:30

    I really like this, for its “clutch and grab” … because this poem speaks with the lurching, the struggle, and the actual physicality that happens, as course of natural instinct, to survive, by such means, even if by one’s own hands.
    So yes, it is harsh, brutal – ugly …. but somehow, there is also a gentleness that I sense within it –
    I “feel read” – and hear – two voices within yourself, as you’ve been writing about this man’s particular death, for some time now – some days one side is “harder edged” like in this poem, and yet, that softness, as if you’re almost asking for forgiveness somehow, keeps it always just shy of being “nasty.” (if you know what I mean by this?)

    And I like how you used question and (un)answerable, even as you then proceed to “answer” *as if* this could resolve the unresolved.
    And the repetition of the starkness, the beginning and ending – and the use of “tie” – it really works …. and clever – I note you’ve changed the point of view in the narrative voice in the beginning, from the ending, while still using the same words … so this just really wraps this all up, into one very tight poem.

    Sad and harsh – but the light must be directed to that which lives in the darkness. I think this is, in some ways, one of your most powerfully written, from the heart, and the heat of the fire, poems Toni. Oui Chef, oui.

    Reply

    • kanzensakura
      Nov 08, 2018 @ 20:26:35

      He was a friend. So much grief for his family, for his other friends, for the people that loved him so much. This was also in combo about my friend Jeff who also hung himself on the 18th of June. This was straight from the heart. Thank you for realizing this.

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      • Pat: willow88switches
        Nov 08, 2018 @ 20:29:26

        your welcome … and you know, this also reminds me of Robin Williams too … similar manner …
        and I’m sorry for your losses … and pain and grief … but perhaps, the words will help you to find some solace …. seek out the moon and listen, it may help ⭐

        Reply

        • kanzensakura
          Nov 08, 2018 @ 20:45:12

          If you have access to CNN, watch the Philippines segment (he made me cry and himself as well and laugh as he shared halo halo with kids on the street) and his segment on W.VA. his respect for people, their food, their dignity…this is why I and tens of thousands of people loved him so. To quote the people he worked with on CNN, he could be a jackass but he was our jackass. He was a real jerk as a young chef. But he changed and became on of the most…human persons I have ever known.

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          • Pat: willow88switches
            Nov 08, 2018 @ 20:53:33

            I’ve seen several of the segments you’ve mentioned …. everyone walks and talks their own stories, really, and he was no exception. And yet, within his own way, he was, of course, exceptional. Perhaps this is the mark of a person who chooses their path in life and walks it with determination, curiosity, wonder, humility and also just the right amount of cynicism.

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            • kanzensakura
              Nov 08, 2018 @ 20:56:00

              Yeppers. And in spite of his cynicism, there was a childlike sense of wonder about him

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              • Pat: willow88switches
                Nov 09, 2018 @ 09:46:46

                I think when you end up so cynical, so very jaded, which comes from being a really old soul, once life has taken the piss and vinegar out of you, end up with exactly that, — an absolute sense of wonder, almost incredulity – for the shock in the innocent, and innocent – which is, actually rather endearing, for the child-like …. although it usually takes the person, as well as others, completely off-guard …

                Reply

                • kanzensakura
                  Nov 09, 2018 @ 11:25:34

                  I agree. Not that I claim to be an old soul or anything but I have never felt like a grown up, at least not until the past couple of years. I am amazed that I am married, pay bills on time, fix dinner…Tony once said that in his 40’s he had never paid rent on time, owned a car, and became a father in his 50’s, that he was always looking in the rear view mirror expecting to see the police lights going. I feel the same way. Children latch on to me for some reason. I was raised an only child in a house if adults, never even held a baby. But they love me for some reason; I am only 4’10” but still. I don’t even know how to talk to a child, I talk to them as equals. Not in “that voice “. I don’t know Pat. I am always amazed and delighted by life, as well as having my heart broken.

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                  • Pat: willow88switches
                    Nov 09, 2018 @ 12:05:33

                    And perhaps, this is exactly why children are drawn to you – because you don’t “objectify or patronize” them. And perhaps, it’s partially responsible for their attraction to you, that they see both the adult and child-like wonder too, and trust that their innocence, their joie de vivre will be accepted for what it is, without reproach. “Adulting” is a necessary part of life, but when it overshadows all else, and sometimes it must, naturally (during crisis etc.) but to lose the spirit and essence of delight, curiosity and simple pleasure is surely a sore and heavy price to pay.

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                    • kanzensakura
                      Nov 09, 2018 @ 14:28:43

                      Adulting is important. I certainly have done it looking after my mother until she died and also to some extent my husband who has some health issues. I have found that with all this and the deaths of mother and three friends, that I am tired of writing pretty poems. I want my poetry to make you laugh, to break your heart, to make you angry, to make you think, to get you to look at nature, to not out “trigger” warnings at the beginning, although I did at the beginning of this one. Life doesn’t give you trigger warnings, it happens right in front of you

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                    • Pat: willow88switches
                      Nov 09, 2018 @ 15:18:40

                      Yes, I can appreciate exactly what you mean – in essence, you want to simply write, about the complexities of life, AS IT IS – Hallmark need not apply! Absolutely nothing wrong with this at all. And it certainly doesn’t mean that it, and life, isn’t beautiful, even for the harder times, even in the depths of it all; and so why not “celebrate” it – as it comes, for what it is. Chasing rainbows has it’s moments, yes – but positivity doesn’t have be layered in 6 inches of fondant. And personally, I’m not “big on” trigger warnings – sometimes, they are appropriate, but as you’ve noted, life doesn’t happen that way. And so long may you write, from the heart and spirit – and let’s face it, you have to be “honest and truthful” for it, and what you do – otherwise, it’s just another shell of emptiness that will eventually lose its shine and lustre.

  4. sanaarizvi
    Nov 08, 2018 @ 20:44:06

    This is incredibly raw and poignant. It’s never easy to bear the loss of a loved one 😢 I am so sorry for your loss, Toni.

    Reply

  5. anmol(alias HA)
    Nov 08, 2018 @ 21:45:48

    Ah. This is powerful in its telling, just the feeling of it took me by surprise and I had to take some deep breaths. Mind I suggest that there can perhaps be a trigger warning prior to the verses catering to the theme and subject of suicide in such concrete terms? I should have taken a pause after the title but I just went with the flow of it, so perhaps the fault is mine.

    The practicality of the situation always astounds me. The process of grieving over a loved one’s suicide can be so harsh. I found the line about the spaces widening so evocative, and the title/refrain so palpable in its portrayal of the beyond, a hope, a suggestion, a need to make sense out of it perhaps. So sorry for your loss, Toni.

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    • kanzensakura
      Nov 08, 2018 @ 22:04:07

      I thought of giving a warning. But then I realize life does not give us trigger warnings. Life unfolds as it will. We have all become so, whatever. Let life and poetry break our hearts, enrage us, frighten us. Trigger warnings do us no justice. Shielding ourselves from pain, from ugliness only causes us to hide. Let poetry, let life, let death break our hearts, make a us angry, make us leap for joy, laugh out loud or sob. No. No trigger warnings.

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    • kanzensakura
      Nov 08, 2018 @ 22:30:25

      I did decide to do a warning after all, although I still believe as I did about warnings. Thank you for your condolences. Grief for a suicide is indeed harsh and unfinished

      Reply

  6. Sherry Marr
    Nov 08, 2018 @ 21:47:35

    Toni, the writing is stunning, the events heartbreaking. Three terrible losses. I lost a friend to suicide, it is very hard on those who are left. I imagine every June will now hold painful memories. So sorry, kiddo.

    Reply

  7. MrsBednar
    Nov 09, 2018 @ 22:21:01

    It’s that moment of pure loss that they act… often thinking they are doing others a favor. I had just gotten to watching him – I was a new fan – and so shocked when it happened. If only they knew how sad their loss would be to so many …

    Reply

    • kanzensakura
      Nov 09, 2018 @ 22:29:23

      I know. But at that point they only think of themselves. I can understand how he could leave the women in his life but not his daughter whom he loved dearly.

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    • kanzensakura
      Nov 09, 2018 @ 22:34:10

      BTW thank you for reading in spite of the warning. It means a lot that you did instead of shying away.

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  8. Kerry
    Nov 09, 2018 @ 23:03:23

    The repeating line works as a clear anaphora in this poem.. The echo of a voice, as backdrop to the step by step method described in the poem. I think this is an important piece, because of how clearly it captures a certain state of mind.

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  9. Brendan
    Nov 10, 2018 @ 03:57:49

    We like to think each poem stands on its own, but there are poems whose meaning deepen as we get to know the poet. I’d been reading yours for several years before learning you worked many years as a chef; so the loss of Anthony Bourdain spiced your work with all that seasoning. I knew his suicide affected you deeply. I’m glad you take in on here graphically and tangibly. And lilting it with the Peter Gabriel song — one of the most freeing affirmative pop songs in the canon — speaks so heavily of the inner journey and its difficult transitions. (How many contexts of needing to get free have we heard the words “grab your things, I’ve come to take you home” — None of the consequence of suicide is here, but all of the desire and need to finally free oneself of the burden of living on. It’s raw and powerful and even yes dangerous, but poetic empathy has to go such places and I pray the poet was able to look it fully in the face and let go the lost. (And find a way in the words to come home)

    Reply

    • kanzensakura
      Nov 10, 2018 @ 08:53:19

      Thank you Brendan. I have been working my way to clear myself of this pain. You see, within two weeks if each other, my mother died and another friend hung himself along with the suicide of Tony. I am finally working myself to put the three deaths into context ad to move on with the good memories. It was a most painful June and impacted more me deeply than people can imagine. I am finally working my way home from the two suicides and have finally stopped blaming myself. My mother I will grieve more quietly now. Thank you for understanding this poem.

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      • Brendan
        Nov 10, 2018 @ 18:33:15

        Sorry Toni – That is way too much to come at one person at one time. Bourdain’s suicide – as a public figure – I pray helped you have some distance in approaching so many losses. I’ve had 3 AA sponsees who have committed suicide, one very dear to me. Lost a lot of family to booze, too – the other suicide.

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  10. Charmed Chaos
    Nov 10, 2018 @ 12:23:36

    All deaths leave a mark on those left, but suicide is the one that never eases.It’s always vivid, always brutal no matter how many years have passed.

    Reply

  11. purplepeninportland
    Nov 11, 2018 @ 21:03:44

    I remember this song so well, Toni. People around you, close as they may be, do not always see the whirling in your brain.

    Reply

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