Your funeral is on Friday.
Today is the heart attack.
Yesterday was the two meetings, dinner
with Tony and Kat, then bed with
the wife (while thinking of Kat).
Day before was that argument over
spending too much time at the office, then
that round of 9 holes snuck in before getting home.
(Tony still has your golf bag, by the way.)
Prescription refills, some new dress shirts,
your son calling from college, the boss giving you four more
clients than you can really handle, and that sudden pain
when you put your golf bag in Tony’s office are all
of last week worth remembering.
So much more worth forgetting.
The Things Which Remain With Us
(For Rebecca Askew)
There are certain things that were meant to remain behind:
That gold ring we will not wear again,
though to once have taken it off would have seemed a sin
Notes, lists, movie stubs, and fortunes from cracked cookies
tucked between and inside shelved books
Photos too engraved in ourselves to even be thought to become garbage
Songs, night music from drives and bedrooms you sometimes listen to to cry
Unused, unfinished things from both big stores and little stores,
little things, really; all just little things
Scars which tell stories to outsiders’ guesses that are deeper than words
Odd socks, mismatched gloves, that hat I never really liked
Marks where you left them, accidentally or not
A voice I hear in the latest of night and a name I use at the least good time
An ache –
ache of cold
old damn ache
Have I changed for you,
a better fit, a better fate?
Have you changed for me,
a bitter taste now an acquired one?
Do we absorb and expand
or retract and regroup?
Melting pot never quite hot enough,
never stirred in the right ways for
all spices to become flavors.
Dance and swirl, centrifuge of life
a song we only sense, never really hear,
never quite get those words out right.
Mix, stir, many-to-one
yet alone at day’s end
in skins our own unique shade.
Stripes, spots, splotches, clean as ivory and teeth
beautiful as any trophy and kept as pure
as the dance will allow.
Do I move to your rhythm
or do you come for my words?
Will I misshape you to my desire
or will you mold me to your will?
The exterminator was here again today, mumbling,
grinning like he’d sniffed his own chemicals
or killed the neighbor kid’s noisy dog.
Handed me a Watchtower and receipt,
blessed me in Jehovah’s true name,
and thanked me for my business.
Took his hoses and tanks,
tossed them in his white van,
and rumbled off to his next stop,
gangsta reggae low-dub bass pumping hard.
Ten minutes later the roaches and ants held me at bay
and I couldn’t get safely to the toilet or the sink.
Could be I’m not a believer in one true name,
a meme of the rapture waiting to happen.
serpent’s belly run through ink,
a prescription for another pill.
Nine orange bottles now
on the kitchen table next to vitamins, pepper, and napkins.
Will this new drug betray any of the eight others I now swallow?
The two I inject?
The foods I ingest?
The body and blood of
how well do you heal me?
Heal thyself (as you would heal those who trespass against thee).
Doctor, how do you know so well,
prescriber or describer?
Doctor, how well do you know me?
Do no harm (that you care to know about)
Doctor, how do you make me well
healer or preventer?