How I much prefer the slow, rumbling thunder,
of a storm that is in no hurry to arrive,

that wants to give us fair warning to brace ourselves
for the wind and rain that will come our way,

much prefer the slow rumble in the distance,
angels let loose in the ten-pin bowling alley,

we give him a year to live, the doctors say
we’ll cut out that tumour,
we’ll mop up with chemo,

a series of body blows,
where the bloodied boxer
gets up time and time again
for more punishment,

and the onlookers
look on
but the odds are against him,

rolling thunder,

(like preferring to be mauled by a vicious dog rather than a lion),

prefer it to the ear-splitting


of thunder,
straight after
a slither
of a moment
between them,

our house is hit
out of the black,
when we thought
we were safe
in bed,

when we thought life
was going pretty well,


the news from the blue,
the knock on the door,
the police officers
with shifting feet,


the news which
like a steel rod
breaks our legs,
and we slump
to the ground,
in shock,


the news which
readjusts the earth
beneath our feet,
the landscape changed


the lightning
hits the house

the clock flies
across the room

the clock


Note: North American poet and blogger Bryan Borland lost his father to a car accident over a year ago, and he said to me that he wasn’t sure which was worse – a sudden death or the slow death of someone with a terminal illness (such as my mother suffered) – I suppose it depends on the circumstances but I prefer a bit ofย notice – they’re both tragic (and I have experienced both). This one is for you Bryan.

44 thoughts on “Thunder

  1. that rolling thunder makes me think to this poem i wrote in 2007 when listening to the song just after:


    Touch the sky
    Dream the line

    Touch the sky
    Du bout des doigts de l’aurore

    Touch the sky et respire
    L’empreinte du sans avenir
    Peintre du sang ร  venir

    Touch the sky
    La sรจve de l’orage
    Te donne des doigts de feu

    Et tu souris

    Touch the sky
    Comme la caresse รฉtoilรฉe
    D’un miel de printemps

    Il pleut du cristal de rire
    Sur la plaine

    Des frissons de velours
    Embrasent les paupiรจres

    Touch the sky
    The open ride

    Touch the sky
    Surfeur des neiges
    Qui germent sur la mer

    Touch the sky
    Feed the light
    Write a line
    Pure summer wine

    1. That song ‘Taboo’ is great – I won’t comment on the poem – that would just be encouraging you gmc – bwahahahaha (you frog-leg eating poet you) – though I see Benedicte has commented for me. Just a bit of trivia – my initials used to be gmc, before they were gmb. Your link does not appear to be working gmc!

  2. I am not good with words, if I was I would like to write like you! So beautiful and touching.

    I was also taken by this bilingual poem, I love the mix of languages, the images, beautiful!
    I tried to find gmc but the link does not work (for me anyway)

    1. You’re welcome Maxine – there are other factors that come into play such as our attitude to death and whether the person with a terminal illness is young etc, that make it just as much of a shock and horror.

  3. A wonderful poem Gabrielle.
    I personally think a little notice is better, but we’re really comparing two awful situations … a poem to ponder for some time I think.

  4. Loved it GB! Now my comment on slow V fast. My mum died over years and we grieved as she went over those years, so her passing brought tears, sadness and a little lingering guilt that maybe we could have done more. But my dad died instantly and the grief never fully leaves with so much unsaid, so many issues not resolved and so much forgiving that can only be one sided.

  5. The price of love is loss. I’ve never known it to be otherwise Gabrielle. Oh, but doesn’t that love shine,I mean really and truly beam and glow even in the depths of our grief and despair? I won’t list my losses but they are many; some tragic and swift, some terminal and agonizing. HUGS and poem for you because I simply cannot have Gilles, the amphibian hunter outdoing me! Nuh uh, not gonna let that happen. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Oh, wait, I think I’ve dropping my gauntlet somewhere in here…anyone seen it? lolol

    Death is an eternal whisper
    the breath caught in the throat of a bird
    as it watches the sun being swallowed
    by the rending of our days
    buried in the ashes of what always came before
    and what shall never come again

  6. Powerful. Dramatic. Like sitting in a room in the city with enormous twelve foot tall windows feeling the CRACK through the glass. Really, really liked it!

  7. Brilliant imagery, Gabrielle – it’s interesting that we have had similar experiences with this and have different views – for me, my father’s slow death from terminal illness was more terrible and soul-destroying than if he had just died suddenly – I feel that sudden death is better for the one who is to die and no more painful a process than a slow death is for those left behind. I am not really sure what good purpose a slow death serves for anyone – that extra time can bring its own unique set of horrors. bb

    1. Thanks bluebee – I think each case is individual and there are no general rules about which is worse. When I think of sudden death, I am referring to young people in their twenties dieing of accidents – not an elderly person dieing suddenly of say, a heart attack (which I think is probably preferable to a drawn out terminal illness with painful treatment options).

  8. i like this analogy to tragedy. you never know what hits you and leave you shattered into pieces. one of a kind poem and a style that is truly your own. excellent as always.

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