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R.I.P.


ISSUE:  Spring 2012

Not forced to fall for hideous Phaon
nor to drift dreamlike from a
Victorian cliff, pursued by visions
of slender limbs, peach-soft hair
dewy violets clustered in an unwilling
lap, not exiled on a distant island
for writing smartly about love
not called amoral nor forgotten
not murdered by a jealous lover
nor weakened from drink
did not make an incision
in the veins never murdered
in a tavern at twenty-nine
nor thought mad, released immediately
from St. Luke’s Hospital for Lunatics
freed from Northampton
General Lunatic Asylum
cured of syphilis not mad
nor ruined by drink nor shot
in the head the rope untied
fluidly slid from the lamp-
post sauntered away with a sideways
crawl up the Champs Elysees
never sickened from drink
nor drowned in the Gulf
of Spezia the heart kept tight
swam madly toward shore
disappeared down the glistening beach
jogging vaguely in the direction of England
staved off fever while fighting for
Greeks, lived, wrote, erased the blood-
stained pillowcase, married Fanny,
moved to Finland, fathered several
pink-skinned children lay down for a rest
in the Baltimore street got up
confused about Spanish port and
went to the graveyard to sleep it off
laudanum, opium, stroke, paralysis,
aphasia, angels, threads of exotic Delacroix
visions, but everything was put right
when mom said “come on home,
I want to care for you,” left the house
and walked into the river until the
water level rose above the hairline
then shed the heavy Edwardian garments
and broke into a birdlike breaststroke
exclaiming “how lovely to be free
of the sickbed!” never destroyed by drink
sang while removing the shrapnel from
a soldier recovered from the Spanish flu
returned to Poland all debts forgiven
by appreciative readers from the Congo
replaced the bottle of Lysol amidst
toxic rats enjoying a sauna under the sink,
did not pull the trigger or push the chair
out from under the revolution while
screaming about the army of the arts
put on a jacket and sailed to Mexico,
calmly came up on deck, folded
the jacket over the rail, and then
arrested by a vision of spread-eagled sailors
descending like angels through
the turquoise blue sky decided not
to swallow the sea, freed from Payne Witney
walked right on through the psychiatric
state hospital and out the other side
had no psychotic break while on acid
in a land of dreamlike torch singers
masquerading as Satinists, never touched the stuff
the dead liver tissue miraculously mended
smoker’s cough silenced cured by the sea air
of old grey Gloucester jumped into
the beach taxi and drove down the beach
gesticulating gaily toward the setting sun,
not undone, unloved, forgotten, nor
filled with despair, not punished for talking
with angels, not unhappy or alone
not misrepresented nor misunderstood
nor nauseous from drink or drugs or depression
loved and respected and read
long-lived healthy and happy
celebrated by all in life before
dying contented in a comfortable bed

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