In the Afterlife Delia Graff Fara Critiques Her Obituary

Delia Graff Fara, a noted professor of philosophy of language at Princeton University, died peacefully at home July 18 after a chronic illness.

— Pooja Makhijani
Okay, how vague is peaceful?
Peaceful to whom?
Did my heart not struggle-
fight for each last pump?
Did my lungs not strive,
air-push against collapse?
Did each of my synapses
not scream? Even if relief
was desired, even if tired,
didn’t this body battle?
And died, yet here I am,
in this article, in this poem,
in my daughter’s very cells.
What of this word chronic—
not able to encompass
the lurking uninvited
appearance at birthday parties,
date nights, on a Tuesday.
Peaceful, is this the last
word for me?  How did she
die? Peacefully
Peaceful, I know is not included
for me. Peaceful is for the satisfaction,
the peace of those still living,
whatever that means.

Pierre’s Desire

Pierre’s desire for some champagne may be vague because of the vagueness in just how much champagne is required to satisfy it.

— Delia Graff
Shifting Sands: An Interest-Relative Theory of Vagueness
Pierre desires enough champagne
to feel like the weight of his brain
is a little bit less than eight pounds

little flamingo inflatable in the pool
of all these worries Pierre desires
one more glass large please pour

till the bubbles kiss the top over
again little fishmouth bubbles
and isn’t that funny Pierre desires

more champagne probably
the bottle empty now head fizz
stomach fuzz a hotdog maybe

and why are there no hotdogs
at places that have champagne
is this tipsy acceptable paid
thirty dollars for the glass
can Pierre act like an ass now
thinks of his mother pursed

lips and desires more champagne
eats the strawberries just in case
they had sipped some up a surprise

treat Pierre thinks his desire
can never by satiated it was unknown
when he began thinking a glass

was the exact amount desired

an answer to the question: significant to whom?

200,000 deaths and yet folks say its the same
as the flu say its only 1 percent and yet
forget that each of those tallies those numbers
were more than a counter click all bone
and tooth and mother people citing
overreaction as bodies are buried
in boxes alone oh just prisoners,
migrant workers elderly just weak
just nothing i don’t know them
my mother says nothing will change
until everyone is affected until everyone
loses someone until we all will know
to whom this is significant


Talking to Brooke about the concept
of vagueness and say my first lesson
is always in specificity. Don’t say
cereal, say Cheerios.  Don’t say
some, say half a bowl, say fifty-
seven little O’s. Say almond milk,
say lactose problems, let the reader
relate. Maybe that is the point.
We try to be so exact, ask a stranger
to our breakfast table, to our chair,
to our body, our breaths, our anxieties
and triumphs.  Perhaps we can’t stand
the idea of vague because we are
desperate, because we are trying
to bridge the gap between you and me
because we are trying to cure the lonely.

out of hand

when does the touch become a grip
become a hold? when do we know

if we have a grasp on it, so slippery
so easy to drop to be held and then not?

you know the one about the frogs
being boiled not knowing the water

is hot. when does it become hot?
when does it become the death

of us? when does the desire become
the vice become the choice no longer?

what hand is the clock at? when does
the turn back become impossible?

Megan Waring is a poet, playwright, and fiber artist who currently resides in Boston. She is currently earning her MFA in poetry from the University of Massachusetts Boston, where she teaches. Her work is forthcoming or published in Rattle, Salamander, Entropy and Nailed Magazine, among others. Her second co-authored play, Archer and the Yeti, was produced by Greene Room Productions in October 2019.