I Want You to Be Whole


When I die, I want your hands on my eyes;

and the green dress picked up at the drycleaners.

Get rid of the Mercedes and buy a Porsche.

(I left enough money to last you two generations,


Break into the zoo and steal an eagle.

Go climb a mountain, dig a hole,

and put my ashes in a volcanic rim.

Whisper a secret,

so it will always be safe with me.

Then set my eagle free,

and find a better wife than I ever was,

or ever could be.

© Alicia Khoo

NaPoWriMo Day 4

“When I die, I want your hands on my eyes,”
Pablo Neruda, “Sonnet 89”


38 thoughts on “I Want You to Be Whole

  1. Pingback: I Want You to Be Whole | Barabrith's Blog

  2. i traveled for a moment to the mountain where your spirit eagle was set free. the promontory overlooks a vast network of lakes and shear cliffs. here, your totem will live safely and in touch
    with the nature it knows. there could never ever be a more darling wife than you. wait for me in Paradise please. i would say, if I were the he. apologies, caught up in the beauty of your words.

    • 🙂 Thank you for the “husband” reply to my “wife” letter and for visiting the mountain! I hope you met my eagle and she led you to the highest cliff where she taught me how to fly.

    • Oh thank you Roberta! RD Laing is one of the biggest pivots and influences in my writing! I also have a poem named after one of his books: The Politics of Experience. Have you read that book, what others do you enjoy from him? 🙂

      • Hi Alicia, what a co-incidence! Yes, The Politics of Experience is Laing’s best I think. My first encounter was The Divided Self and I also read Reason and Violence as well as Laing’s chapter (The Outcast) in David Cooper’s book The Dialectics of Liberation. Alicia I’m delighted to meet a fellow Laingian, I have a book coming out this year on Creativity and Mental Health with a section on Laing’s views. I am ashamed to say I have never read Knots which is apparently a masterpiece. Have you read it?

      • I’ve never read Knots either, but now that you mention it, that will be my next endeavor.

        The Politics of Experience was a game-changer for me, and I felt like it was pure poetry. I was backpacking at the time I discovered this book in a dusty mosquito filled second hand bookstore on an island–I couldn’t put the book down. It’s something I go back to again and again and am blown away by its power.

        “We are effectively destroying ourselves with violence masquerading as love”.

        The Divided Self, again, very much along the same lines of his exposition/discourse on “normalcy” and “sanity” and “existence.”

        I did my undergrad in Psychology, and I am very much against Psychiatry, or at least against the practitioners who prescribe medication without really identifying the possible need for counseling and/or intervention.

        Congratulations on your book coming out! What is the name of it? I will be sure to check it out.

      • Thank you so much Alicia for your encouraging comments so firstly I will give you a brief run-down of the book as well as a bit of back story. I worked as a psychiatric nurse for many years, disgusted with the overuse of medication and continually campaigning for more psycho-social resources. Then i went back to school and studied psychology first, then social anthropology and gained a PhD by research – my fieldwork in the west of Ireland unearthed a number of inspirational mental health recovery narratives and led to the book – Creativity and Social Support in Mental Health: Service Users’ Views. (The term service user has emerged in the uk, in other areas it equates with ‘psychiatric survivor’ or sometimes ‘comsumer’ – none are ideal but we run with service user because that is what the user-led organisations use). My publisher is palgrave and it will be out later this year in UK, hopefuly at some point in the USA as well. I have referenced Laing a great deal since he was the first to see the inherent creativity in all people and at Kingsley Hall and other therapeutic communities, social support and creativity formed the core ethos of their approach.

        Alicia, I am absolutely thrilled to hear of how you found Laing’s work – or it found you maybe? I think profound writing comes to us exactly when we need it – Jung’s synchronicity! And bowled over by your picking up on the violence of so-called love – which is often more possessive and controlling rather than nurturing. (In another book (fiction) I am trying to tie this into a character, but it’s in the very early stages).

        So thank you again for your site, the poems and prose are at once both deep and uplifting so I thank you for the inspiration and look forward to staying in touch, all the best for now, Roberta

        Oh by the way, there is a lovely biography of RD Laing written by his son Adrian – It’s called RD Laing: A Life….

      • Wow Roberta you are doing epic work in the field of mental health. I am sure the world will be better for it. You have a new fan/reader!

        Yes, “service-user” is definitely much better than “patient”! I hate the learned helplessness in psychiatric “patients” who really just need a lot of healing, care and support from a community of like-minded people.

        Laing’s work definitely found me in that little bookstore in South Thailand. I was so enthralled by the book from the very first page that I had mosquitoes eating me alive without realizing it. A few times this has happened and every time I make my annual pilgrimage there for rock-climbing, I will visit that bookstore and sift through books for hours–which is how I discovered Madeleine L’Engle’s Walking on Water and Josef Pieper’s Leisure, the Basis of Culture. Also Money and the Meaning of Life by Jacob Needleman (another work that influences a lot of my worldview and thought process).

        Definitely looking forward to staying in touch, grabbing a copy of your upcoming book, and to reading your fiction as it evolves. Thanks for the much needed encouragement regarding my work, I have a novella coming up, will post excerpts here. 🙂


  3. Hi Alicia Khoo, this poem is so sentimental .Sad yet a reminder. ( thank you for liking my post ( a day without tomorrow.) My respect .jalal

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