DEATH POEM #2 ~ Tony O’Neill

March 24, 2007

four years
three months
a handful of grey hairs
and you are still dead

two wars
one president
(still hanging on)
one word
became ten thousand
ten thousand one hundred thousand
one hundred thousand
too many to count
and you are still dead

a child was born
learned to sit, crawl, walk,
call me daddy, her eyes and
shining dark hair an eerie echo:

her penchant for pranks
laughter and mischief
an inheritance of her mothers
her brooding silences
and volcanic rages
a bequeathment of my own

all of this, and more
has staked its claim on the world
and you are still dead

the short stop
the three of clubs
jumbos clown room

the gold room
the burgundy room
all are still standing
in Echo Park and Hollywood
it is business as usual
while you are still dead

the men who sell cocaine
heroin and pills
are still selling to others
the economy of poetry

the cocaine is still wonderful
the heroin exquisite
the pills still a shortcut
to enlightenment
and intimacy
but you
you are still dead

the girls we knew then
some now must have husbands
or children and houses
or maybe they’ve gone mad

or pole dance or turn tricks
or remain in the same place
and right now as I write this
are loaded and talking
with machine gun tongues
and far-away eyes

not thinking of how
your touch was once alive
and their skin was your playground
your personal property

all traces of you gone from them
dripped out of them
wiped away
their holes filled with new cocks
and new tongues and fingers
while you
you, you
are still dead

I thought of you last night
fitfully, 1am
of how nothing remains
of the person I knew
except bones (interred in Cambodia)
an email address (obsolete)
and a handful of pictures
which grow older each day

it hurts to see you
once so alive and so real
reduced to an idea
fuzzy, indistinct
like Elvis or God
an abstraction, a mirage

how strange
that these words
that I write for pleasure
or penance
are my only way
of enjoying your company now

four years
three months
a handful of grey hairs
and you
my friend
are still dead


3 Responses to “DEATH POEM #2 ~ Tony O’Neill”

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