The irascible old radical

cussing on the toilet

in the rest home

wasn’t John Muir, Bob Marshall,

or Robinson Jeffers,

but he lived in the wilderness

of his mind, a Buddhist

warrior who called Ginsberg

a cock-sucking Commie-Kike.


He knew he was losing

it and there was nothing

he could do. Anger

was his constant companion,

and he hated it, certain

the fucking game was rigged.

After sitting on the shitter

and mumbling for 10 minutes or so,

we asked if he needed anything.


He suggested we read poems,

so we obliged, stood outside

the opened bathroom door

and read him our verses

while he sat and shat,

praised and panned them

before drifting off again.


When finally we announced

we had to go, he stuck out

a hand we each took

and shook before leaving

him there hunched over,

eyes closed, the same posture

we’d found him in

nodding in his wheel chair

when we’d arrived an hour ago.


As I closed the door,

I wondered where he’d gone.

Perhaps back up into mountain air

to search for wolverine and lynx

there, or maybe he was living

a haiku in his head,

just floating out to sea.

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