Waiting to Die
My thoughts turn my eyes to the telephone.
Chastising myself at the idea that has slipped
From it's covers in a dusty, dark and frightened
Place, behind a door, buried in a vault whose
Door has an illegible sign on it: "unknown"
We fear the life we long to live
When snatched from it we celebrate
Watching others pass by we cry
We have grown casual about the nightly news
Of the lives given up in flood, in war, in hunger
Who will disturb my anxiety with news of death?
How will I handle the death of mother, of father?
My imaginary deluded projection of self
Sits like a cool rock, like Henry Fonda
Handling the news that New York City has been
Evaporated in a cloud of hot uranium.
No tear moves or cheek twitches as I acknowledge
The blow that quietly crushes my organs with the
Splendid ballet power of a knockout punch from
The great Muhammad. My imaginary heart has not
Palpitated and I conduct several calls to siblings and
Relatives, exuding the calm of Ahab just before the storm
I laugh at this mental circus, wondering how long I can
Resist looking at the phone as if it had an electrocution
Wire attached to my chair.
The truth is I will be mowed down like the wet grasses
That fall with honor as an army of shock words overtake
My inner place of peace, of certainty, of connection.
Perhaps I think more on this shadow land of withdrawn life
Because I have made friends with Charon and in peace,
When it is my time, I will sit in the boat and accept the journey.
Poem © 2005 Fred Houpt, all rights reserved
appears here by permission
Illustration created by and © K.L.Storer, all rights reserved