This was the first poem I wrote after a 25-year hiatus. It was written as a challenge from a friend. I was at an open mic a little over a year ago — where I heard some godawful poem being read. I mumbled to host of the open mic that the poem being recited was pretty lame. The host turned to him and said: “Can you do better?” I took up that challenge…
by Wulf Losee
I will unfold a smile for strangers,
weak enough to comfort those I leave behind.
Instead of seraphim, masked and green gowned
psychopomps attend my final ceremony.
Ignore the cacophony of the flatlined EKG.
And the fading voices of the doctors and technicians
Brush assistance away as I enter the final meditation,
Ignore the sterile lights and the burn of the needles,
And the unraveling, and the dizziness,
Spinning, roaring, falling…
Remember that last dry breath of oxygen.
“Let us wade across the river,” you say.
You stumble on the cobbles, and, balance lost,
you roll back and flop, seated in the water,
And you laugh as the current lifts you.
Reaching for my hand, your motion is caught
By a dragonfly landing on your wrist.
You blow on it, but it stubbornly
Trims its wings to your breath and will not leave
Until you throw it into flight.
You splash me. I catch you, and then…
In a slow eternity of motion, our…
Sunlight scattered through the icicles –
First memories, these. How young was I?
Wobbling on soft-boned legs,
I try to grab them through the winter glass.
Light will be my special toy to play with,
Until the sun thaws and breaks their needles,
And crystals skitter on the porch.
Small hands cannot hold them.
The voices of my parents sound further
Down the corridor each day.
Will I laugh or cry?
I’m not quite sure.
And to the student who dissects my corpse,
What will you find with your scalpel
That’s sharpened like an angel’s wing?
Please search for my lost memories
Hidden in the folds and stitchings of dead nerves.
But will your hand tremble as you probe and cut?
First-time jitters with the dead will be forgotten.
But will you pause before that first incision –
Gagging on the taste of sour sweet formaldehyde?
Night blooming flowers of the dead –
The scent of asphodel is painful to the living.
Take a deep breath.