The Toast

I have cirrhosis—shouldn’t drink—no
insurance and no steady job. I offend
the passing pious—I am their Wandering Jew—
but if I clean their eaves or cut their grass
(and there’s no parted blinds next-door) they’ll pass

a pint of Early Times and promises of prayer.
Forgiveness, food and tacit empathy,
they hold me close to earthen length
and breadth. It is enough for me
to pick up feet and let them fall

in finite steps; I am the Wandering Jew.
God bless the man who used to walk
so softly in these thrift store shoes before
they came to me. May he with opened hands
enjoy serenity that comes

in what is freely given. With a jar of shine,
drunk by the paper mill, I sensed this place
where light or sound had yet to be—
an altitude that some may call my soul—
and found it restful there:

no children, pain or vengeful god, no radicals
implore Muhammad or that Nazarene. No hurt
can come from splashing bourbon over ice;
so pour and lift a glass to your Wandering Jew.
And Hell, I say we chase it with a beer.


Previously published in Heavy Bear.