Mourning Prince, Ziggy Stardust … and Oedipus

Social Media Brings an Ancient Greek Twist to a Previously Private American Ritual

After Prince died my Facebook news feed filled with mourning. My friends shared the time he sang “Starfish and Coffee” with the Muppets, told stories of going to concerts at the Oakland Coliseum and Mohegan Sun Casino and explained in detail how much he meant to them. For a week, San Francisco and Los Angeles city halls got lit up in violet. I teach ancient Greek literature and culture at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and this struck me as both strange and familiar. I sometimes feel closer to the …

When My Father Died

my mother built over me a worry
big as a hangar the concrete floors oceanic
but I mopped them every morning slick and lit
like sweat on a palm I …

In Medicine, Dying Doesn’t Have to Be a Struggle

Options, Not Treatment, May Be What's Most Needed at the End of Life

Grandma’s dying.

She lived a full life, but illness is getting the best of her. Could be days, could be weeks, the doctors say—unless, that is, she tries one particular …

Has Modern Medicine Made Dying Harder Than Ever?

Hospitals Have Gotten Better at Keeping Us Alive, But That Also Means Thornier Questions at the End of Life

In his 2010 New Yorker essay “Letting Go,” surgeon Atul Gawande stops by the intensive care unit at his hospital and describes the sad state of its patients at the …

Why We Need to Name the Dead

Descendants and Surviving Family Insist That Ordinary People Had Lives Worth Noting

Almost 3,000 migrants have drowned this year trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Africa to Europe. Many of their bodies have washed ashore without names. These are bodies of …

Exits

I saw a woman decaying on the street.
Not waiting for her light. Not looking, not caring and
No one hit her.

Later
I saw a woman with anger crusted
In …