Daily Archives: March 11, 2017

Boulders

Boulders within you. Fields,
forests of them looming,
covered in misted moss.

The rules for entering here:
duck them when they’re rolling,
climb them when they’re still.

You enter
when you learn

that an old friend unseen for years dies
and you learn that they lived 
close by
that whole time but you never saw 
each other
and did not cross paths

though many mutual friends
were held 
between you. 

Is that boulder moving
or stable?

Your family has forgotten your address
and doesn’t return 
your calls.
You are eating 
alone, sitting alone,
standing up

to pace the room alone.

How many boulders
are quivering now?

Beyond this field the mountains are rumbling.  
Landslides everywhere.

People scatter and scream;  others
shove prybars into ledges
and chortle as stones come down.
Your field is empty of such doings at the moment
and will likely stay that way as long as you
don’t draw attention to yourself
by stepping out to try and save someone.

Do you climb, do you duck?
Do you 
step out, or do you lie down
to be
crushed like a tossed can?

All the stones of the world
whether placed for worship
or worshipped where they were found
are questions. You are so much smaller 
than they are that it seems
there are no grounds from which to answer.

Then again,
you chose 
to enter the field in the first place.


A Drink With Death

I sat on the front porch with Death
and shared whisky. 

Death has a rep for terrible taste
in booze but all things considered,

I took the glass and choked it down.
Not horrible, not great.  Sometimes

mediocre is the worst option
but being the only one available makes it

the best option as well. 
Afterwards we shared a joint. Mine, of course;

Death can’t roll to save a soul
and my reputation for that skill is known in Heaven and Hell.

Death settled into the chair
and took a larger pull than was strictly 

polite, but arguing makes no sense
when you argue with Death. (Before this all

becomes “Princess Bride” parody, 
understand how serious this was

underneath the smiles and proffered drugs:
I was drinking and toking with Death

as if it all hadn’t been that for my whole life,
as if I didn’t know what might be at stake, though I did.)

Buzzed and worried,
I asked Death for a momentary reprieve — not for myself,

but for some random person. I wanted to tell myself
that I’d made some difference for someone

without regard for who they were. When Death
nodded and said it was done, I swallowed the drink

and the burning, dragged deep, fell asleep.
Someone didn’t die because I’d had that drink,

I told myself.  Such a wasted life as I’d had, 
I had to justify it at least a bit, even if I’d been in a fog

the whole time.  Even if I didn’t know 
that the saved person was worthy.  No one’s worthy

enough, really. It’s all a drunken plea
to stay alive for each of us. I didn’t do anything, 

really, except hope it would work to my credit
to have done something not for myself.  It’s what

every drink shared with Death is,
of course. A bargain. A deal, a commodified prayer

with indeterminate answers. Fire swallowed for heat,
chased with a hope for no scarring.