Dying by the Numbers

At the Funeral - From Diapers to Diapers, Dust to Dust - More Than Ten Years Gone; V is for Victory Gin - 93

At the Funeral

At the funeral they were dry-eyed from crying

for the last eighteen months.

The hand of the doctor, which held every chemical

and pill known to man, was held back by the lawyers

and by the priests in their black gowns

doing more rounds,

so that the doctor, who had sworn to do no harm

had been forced to watch

while the pandora box of pills brought on dementia and paroxysm.

The hand of the doctor was so shaken with the trembling

of the seven million wards of shaking geriatrics

who could neither live nor die

that he couldn't administer the blue pill of release

even if they let him. 


From Diapers to Diapers, From Dust to Dust

At three you’re happy to get all the toys:

rattle, baubles, teeth.

At seventy you watch as each of these is slowly taken from you:

hearing, seamen, knees.

At ninety-three you barely see them drifting outward

over the dark blue water,

Charon smiting you with his oar,

as they drift across the river of oblivion: 

teeth, baubles, rattle.




More Then Ten Years Gone; V is for Victory Gin*

Whereas once he strat through golden grandes avenues nouvelles

Bare-breasted, rippling abs, hair waving to the pretty crowd

Like Robert Plant onstage grinding his fruit machine

Now the spent god waddles like a thing undone

Through the old repetitive self-same streets

Sartre's nausea trailing him everywhere

His face in every window he sees

Upper buttons ten years gone

Barely lifting his head

Like a black dog

In the noon-

Day s



* Led Zeppelin's "Ten Years Gone" is about love and time; Victory Gin is the grim drink of defeat in Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four



The boys' giggles bubbled up like cartoon circles

Crowding into the rafters of the café

Up against the windows

That looked out into the vast long world

Of continents and endless sky

Until the cumulated hilarity of dribbles

Turned into a surge his old muscles couldn't stop

And they exploded in laughter

As the yellow water streamed

Down the leg of the old wooden chair

And they laughed and they laughed

And over the years they laughed

And they laughed

Until the tears dripped down their faces



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