March 1st by Carol McMahon

Anthony, Katherine, Jane, Tsai, Susan, David, Ruth, Henry, Carl, Graydon, Lidia, Rosemarie, Aleyah, Richard, Daisy, Todd, Barbara, Harvey, Louis, Vincente, Anita, Douglas, Esther, Thomas, Jeremy, Catherine, Harvey, Alessandro, Janice, Anderson, Bertoni, Burbank, Sagneri, Van Duser, Wirschem, Bruman, Chamberlin, Askin, Clemens, Bentley, D’Andrea, Curran, Degus, Farina, Hasto, Napolitano, Schrader, Rosenbaum, Soong, McConachie, McElwin, Sundquist, Swift-Meyers, White, Wirschem, Spear, Reisman, suddenly, after a lengthy illness, after a short illness, after a courageous battle, at home, his home, in the hospital, surrounded by, survived by, predeceased by, loving husband, devoted wife, partner, fiancée, mother, father, son, daughter, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, children, stepson, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, siblings, sisters, brothers, a multitude of friends, faithful companion, beloved dog, studied history & education, a lifelong communicant, enjoyed travel, flew planes, a doctor of medicine, loved bridge, graduated from, adjunct professor, skilled craftsman, jazz/rock musician, talented visual artist, avid researcher, Ph.D. in aeronautics, a member of, retired from, will be truly missed, in our hearts, an inspiration, a shining example, with gratitude, to share a memory, send a condolence, light a candle, sign the online registry, memorial service, funeral mass, friends may call, interment at, arrangements entrusted to, visitation for, burial at, private service, no service, entombment private, celebrated, Holy Cross Church, Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, Sacred Heart, St. John Lutheran Church, First Bible Baptist Church, Hope Church, White Haven Memorial Park, United Church of Christ, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations, charity of your choice, Open Door Mission, Alzheimer’s Association, Arthritis Foundation, American Cancer Society, Disabled Veterans, Wounded Warriors, Humane Society, AIDS Care, Breast Cancer Coalition, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Golisano Children’s Hospital, March of Dimes Foundation, Salvation Army, National Kidney Association, National Liver Association, St. Andrews Food Cupboard, peacefully, in peace, peacefully and quietly, passed away, and died.

 

Source: Obituary section of the March 1, 2015 edition of the Rochester, New York Democrat & Chronicle newspaper.

 

The Method: The names (both first and last) as well as the phraseology, cause of death,  and funeral arrangements etc. were all taken from one day of newspaper obituaries and randomly rearranged in the order of a single obituary.  The layout is designed to mirror the columns of a newspaper. My intent is that the effect of reading the poem will be a perception of the vastness and all-encompassing nature of life’s impermanence as well as an awareness of the ways in which our lives are but mirrors of the lives of our fellow humans.

 

Carol McMahon is the author of a chapbook, On Any Given Day (FootHills Publishing, 2006). She has been published in Prodigal, IthacaLit, Blue Collar Review, Lake Affect Magazine, and elsewhere. McMahon holds an MFA in Poetry from the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University and currently resides in Rochester, New York.