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.
It never occurred to me
if Pluto should be considered
a planet. I can barely remember
the circumference of your sun,
let alone care to decide
if a mouse will outwait the owl,
or how this pedestrian will judge
the speed of that vehicle.
It’s all too much
such drama, even for me;
I have galaxies to spin—
faster than you know. Yet
through my absences,
you remain so earnest—
believing yourself to be
a favorite child, so sure
a Father must be near,
and in all things. I nearly believe
such faith can delay
the restarting of time,
that you might follow
the meteor’s arc,
willing it to burn away
until, a molten seed,
it crashes through your waiting palm.
I suppose there are too few of them
to pass the hours, as I have, pondering
reflections in the pool. Make no mistake,
if I am not still captivated there,
I must by now be unhandsomely dead,
henceforth unlikely to hear diminished,
again and again, what’s been said before.
Nor to watch you swiftly languish
into a newly meaningless life.
I would not haunt you if I could;
but if I could and would, I should be
offended to find you pawing
every itch that comes along,
with the flower barely risen
from my grave. I have prepared
an empathetic suitor to call:
Though he was once a youthful nemesis,
you cannot help but call him back.
His voice, as I understand,
could be mistaken for mine.
He even has some similar lines
(though not as beautiful, for sure) and is,
perhaps, a little more attentive,
a better listener than I could care to be.
But most importantly, it’s me
he always tried (in vain) to love;
so now you both may keep my legacy,
Dear, while chastely undisturbed.