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.