A Deathplace

Sissman, L. E. (Louis Edward)

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry
Secondary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Poem

Annotated by:
Coulehan, Jack
  • Date of entry: Mar-05-2002
  • Last revised: Feb-22-2010


In "A Deathplace" the speaker recounts, with seeming nonchalance, the predictable sequence of his own death. He describes the hospital he knows so well, the details of surgery (down to "the buttered catheter goes in"), the "malignant plum," and finally "the hour / when the authorities shut off the power . . ." Sissman uses the power shut-off to signify his own death, but soon the lights go up and throughout the hospital the "business of life" resumes. Part of that business is to move his body to the morgue, then to the undertaker, then "That's all."


Sissman was an advertising executive who suffered from and eventually died of Hodgkin's disease. Much of his later poetry was influenced by the experience of his chronic, debilitating illness.


First published: 1969. Also available in Sissman, L.E., Night Music (Boston: Houghton Mifflin) 1999.

Primary Source

Hello Darkness: The Collected Poems of L. E. Sissman


Little, Brown

Place Published





Peter Davison

Secondary Source

Hello Darkness: The Collected Poems of L. E. Sissman