In the years to come

An old man flicks his cigarette ash
onto the winter grass, recalls
his life, a shrine of memories —
as a young rancher, he hunted coyotes,
slept on the snow-stroked mountains,
woke to the first spot of champagne light
and sighed, Another day of work!
Now, with the virgin spring, the acidic fall,
the loneliness of beer-swigged winters
moving behind his eyes, his cigarette burns
down the tarred years, miles of breath
over raw land, his heart now halved,
God-bandaged, and in this year of death,
he is left to think of lying in the age to come,
with beaten man’s split skin, dirt rubbed,
time licking bones to nothing,
a heavy, unmarked stone resting on his head.

An old man flicks his cigarette ash
into the country club’s ashtray, recalls
his life, a thesis of memories —
as a young scientist, he studied particles,
slept in his chair, dreaming of fractions,
woke up to set a stopwatch
and sighed, Time always runs out!
Now, with the empirical spring and fall,
the uncertainty of quantum winters
moving behind his eyes, his cigarette burns
down the esteemed years, miles of breath
trapped in the cold box of a lab, his heart a quark,
science-draped, and in this year of death,
he is left to think of lying in the age to come,
with golf-tanned skin, slick-white hair
time licking bones to anti matter,
a handsome plaque resting on his head.

An old man flicks his cigarette ash
onto the trash in a dark alley, recalls
his life, an experiment of sorts —
as a skid row bum, he rarely made bail,
always failed to keep a promise,
woke long after the smog-smudged sun vanished,
and sighed, If only I was loved!
Now, with the conjugal spring and divorced fall,
the salt from empty-sky winters
moving behind his eyes, his cigarette burns
down the adulterated years, miles of breath
spread over the edgeless space, his heart an angry fist,
cocaine-rubbed, and in this year of death,
he is left to think of lying in the age to come,
with a tissue thin skin, a stray bullet piercing him,
time licking bones to garbage, a coroner’s boot tapping,
a blood-washed rock resting on his head.


Published in Bitterzoet Magazine July’2016

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