Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Folded over his walker
resting on his forearms
he isn't much,
isn't healthy plainly
isn't okay --

Insipidly I ask
"Sir, are you okay?"

His head alone defects
his abject posture,
jaw hanging somewhat
like a dashboard ashtray,
eyes wide with looking
through their tops,
porcelain powder skin
an extraterrestrial canyon
consequent to prehistoric flows,
relentlessly jagged
for want of an atmosphere's
soothing smoothing.

"Just resting," he says,
a sudden smile beatific through malady
aglow like an old globe
plugged into a forgotten attic outlet.
"I'm fine."

I set my coffee
in a shop window convenient to hand
and withdraw awkwardly
my silver cigarette case
while he gathers wind to ask
"Those Marlboros?"

"Camels," I say twice
to communicate once
and he nods,
examines his feet,
slackens his jaw with lifting again.
"I quit November ninth."

"That's excellent."
And it is.


I choke back inadequate replies
measuring words as I do now
oddly desperate to conclude well
this gratuitous consort
of dying strangers.

Candor: "That's a good reason to quit."

"Ayuh," he concurs devoutly.

I touch flame to cigarette.
Retrieve coffee.
Bid good day
with warmth borrowed
from the April sun.

Turn as though to lead him.

eXTReMe Tracker