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The Metaphysics of Suicide


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I have been often enough misunderstood that I feel obligated to short-circuit some reflexive knee-jerking. The following is not a paean to suicide, quite the opposite. The poem comes from an internal struggle about whether or not refusing treatment might be considered suicidal or weak. The struggle isn't about what others might think, but about my own uncertainty given that I reject suicide as a solution to any problem. As well, I want to be clear that I intend no insensitivity to those affected by suicide. If the subject seems painful to you, pass on before reading the verse.

Metaphysics of Suicide

Bi Janus

for Abe Sensei

The oncologist glares.

I’d like to fire you;

refusing treatment

is craven and suicidal,

says he.

No, I tell him --

your equality is in


Suicide itself,

an error

born of


that the rest of

painful life

is more than


that its own

end is distant

though it comes

the next instant

no matter

what one does,

though not

an unforgivable error.

But, my way kills your hope,

not mine.

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