NaPoWriMo 2018 – #15 The Bardo


A few months ago I read George Saunders’ “Lincoln in the Bardo”. Its premise is that when Abraham Lincoln’s young son, Willie, died, he was trapped in a place between life and death, the bardo. The bardo, in some schools of Buddhism, is  a liminal state between death and rebirth. Whilst in Vietnam I wrote a draft of this as a homework exercise with friends Gaby and Nick. I’ve updated it slightly in this version.

The Bardo

In the death flash,

his past flickers to life

on a parchment screen.


The saddest scenes,

his worst deeds,

his shame freeze framed.


Unedited lowlights

on endless repeat,

the happy parts made banal.


His next life

a pinhole of light

unwilling yet to show its hand.





Copyright Mike Hopkins 2018

Image: Zhi-Khro Bardo Thodol.jpg

About NaPoWriMo

(Some / most of these could be rightly described as “chopped up text”. But that’s how first drafts often look.)

One thought on “NaPoWriMo 2018 – #15 The Bardo

  1. M-m-m. I’ve always thought that real hell wouldn’t be pitchforks and flames, but having all your worst moments and traits put out for public viewing. Even worse that your Bardo. At least you offer a pinhole of light to come, however unwilling to show itself yet..

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