In Memoriam: Nicholas Hughes (1961-2009)

Were you haunted by those ghosts?
Not the ones who died, but the ones that lived
In the minds of those who thought they knew,
They had their fingers on the pulses
Of those who had let the blood run cold.
Was it all too much? To be part of that
Heritage of death and deliberation?

Or was it that the fish were doomed to die?
The futility was just too hard to fight
And you knew it was now or never.
Though you tried to find a place, remote
And reachless on this earth
Those albatrosses carried on
Pulling you under the tides of
Stream and sea.

Are we any different? Is it merely
Circumstance? Or would the twitch
Upon the threads of our existence
Unwind us into a thousand strands
Forcing us to choose the same?
Standing on that stone-cold
Precipice, would we have the strength
To turn and head for home,
Or would we dive headlong into
The depths?

Kathleen Mortensen©2009

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20 thoughts on “In Memoriam: Nicholas Hughes (1961-2009)

  1. Yes, this is a beautiful tribute. It's the only poem I've seen so far on the subject, and you handle it with tenderness and beauty. I especially love the fish, the albatross, and the questions. The questions are ones many of us are wondering. I've lost dear people I love to suicide, and it's a horrible thing. But I can't imagine what it's like to be in the public eye during this awful time. You ask the questions with a true poet's love and concern. That shows a big heart, and I am touched by this poem. Wonderful work, as always.

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  2. What a lovely, sad poem, Kat. This is more than a tribute to Nicholas Hughes; it is a deep understanding of human nature, the weight of expectation, and the fragility of our hold on this earth. I keep reading this over and over, amazed at that last stanza and its deep, essential question.

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  3. If no one minds, I choose not to respond to comments on this. Rather, let it stand as a tribute with only gratitude from me for what I feel was a spiritual gift to be able to write it.Kat

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  4. Sometimes the pull to go past the edge is magnetic..with ghosts of mothers calling.. Not all can stop legends. How sad this end is. What a beautiful poem.

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  5. One of the best contemplative lines I've ever read: “…Or would the twitchUpon the threads of our existenceUnwind us into a thousand strandsForcing us to choose the same?”The timing of your Plath poem and this tragic event shouldn't be lost on anyone. It's almost impossible for poets to write about suicide without people wondering if they're having suicidal ideations. But, you've managed to do it, and as another commenter said – “it is a deep understanding…”

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