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.)