How Does it Feel

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Maybe I was more afraid,

more attuned to, or more haunted

by death. Or maybe I was just

more aware of Its presence

each day, more determined

to point out the ghost

elephant in the room.

 

Maybe it was the assassination

of JFK followed by my grandpa’s

Catholic funeral, my dad’s

conditional surrender to booze . . .

or maybe it was the landscape,

those endless gray days, the harsh

weather, long nights and dark hours.

 

Maybe it was that brown house

Biff McClain blew his brains out in,

the one my sister rented

just up the hill from our shack.

I stayed with her those nights

her husband worked graveyard,

when my dad was holed-up

at home in a bottle of whiskey.

 

Maybe It was the perfect scaffold

to hang this melancholy on—

cold, vast, silent, poor, drunk

bodies washing up on the cabin

floor—this hour of nothing, loss

awash in hopeful tears. Maybe

what I feared the most was never

understanding why I loved

so many so much and if

 

I’d ever live long enough to sing

in this crippled voice

(my old man knew by heart)

those songs of Woody’s and Walt’s

Bobby robbed from the gods—

It’s Okay, Nobody Needs a Name . . .

and It’s Alright Ma,We’re Merely Dying.

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