Deadline

You have reached the deadline. You are now dead.
Forget what gods you naively prayed to
in The Time Before You Died, because those
gods cannot help you realize this new
lack of future. You have been forsaken.
Perhaps there will be mercy, but don’t get
too comfortable with any one hope
in particular; you are lucky to
even retain existence, the ghostly
ability to appreciate the
dank murk of uncertainty your non-life
has become, for this is the end of the
world, this is what doesn’t come afterwards,
and somehow you have failed you yet again.

Tray Table

There is a plastic placemat suspended
from the seat in front of me, now kindly
supporting the weight of my near-sleeping
brain. I had every intention of
using the molded-in cup holder to
keep a whiskey drink from tumbling during
the bumpier portions of this flight, the
hitting-more-air times, but I’m much too tired.
I’ve been listening to Beethoven or
whatever else this airline deems to be
culturally significant enough
to stuff into their perfectly timed seat
radio—a concerto here, a slow
symphony there—and now I am falling.

Seasonal Beer

I don’t have an opinion on flavors
saved for special occasions, now that I
write about it, which is half the purpose,
don’t you think? To discover the pieces
of myself I don’t need? The arguing
unnecessary when I don’t believe
my side of the debate in the first place?
I’m not a fan of random pumpkinness,
but that’s a specific instance and should
not fill in for all winter, spring, summer,
and fall taste modulations. Eat what you
will. Enjoy the foods you enjoy. Or don’t.
You don’t need me to tell you what to eat.
This was a stupid poem anyway.

Cider

There’s a lukewarm pot of cider on the
stove, homemade, strong enough you can taste the
liquor flavor, not so strong it matters.
It’s mostly ignored for the countertop
bar, one half of the sink lined with plastic,
filled with ice, a nice selection of cheap
and less cheap bottles for do-it-yourself
concoctions. Despite the DIY, I
still adhere to BYOB, Guinness
for me, last year’s lost memory all I
need to keep me from the real competitive
drinking, the taste of everything, the
“Hell, it’s the holidays!” taint in the back
of my mouth. Won’t be a naughty boy, no.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie

In my insatiable gluttony I
devour disappointment like Zebra Cakes,
not much nutritional value, but I
love the taste, buy in bulk, apparently
have a sweet tooth for sulk. I could at least
pretend it has some health benefits, a
homemade oatmeal raisin type of pain, mixed
with these two hands, baked at the exact right
temperature for however long the
recipe reads, for if someone else says
it’s okay, I can live with that. I’ll have
to adjust my diet, my caloric
intake, not make so many meals of my
disappointments, donate the leftovers.

Stuffing

We played soccer while the turkey slow cooked,
with the Mexicans from the kitchen who
half wanted to celebrate their newfound
Americanness and half were happy
just to have a full day off finally.
We watched football later in the day and
wondered if there were more traditional
sports that could be played, the Pilgrims’ ping-pong,
Columbus’ lacrosse, a Viking type
of tennis, snowballs thrown over the bow
of a long ship after a lengthy trip
into the unknown, some ancient native
game, perhaps, something lost forever to
time and race and smallpox and translation.

Diamond

We’ve cut pieces of the earth up as stars,
a great pretending where each outstretched hand
is a stand-in for the sun. Watch how the
flowers grow as we pass our thin fingers
over them; see the petals drink in our
life, green all around and through, down to the
roots; admit you feel the warmth that breathes out
from this fist, pulsates with each cold hand shook.
And like the stars it is born from blackness,
cast out from nothingness by nothingness,
an entity existing to exist.
We wear rocks that cannot smudge, with no grime
or dust ever upon them, though still they
dirty our hands even as they light them.