Death sipped tea at my dinning table,
read an Adrian Rich poem obliquely,
sat there pondering it for a few moments,
didn’t get the message.
Sipped tea again from one of my ceramic cups,
refilled it from the steaming pot,
knew he was in charge of the moment.
He tore the page out of the book,
folded it precisely,
placed it in his shirt pocket.
In profile Death watched me
out of the corner of his eye,
not conscious that the devil
hides in corners.
He knew I knew it was him —
the black robes, the bony death head
are a dead give away.
Death said to no one in particular
that he wanted to talk to young philosophers,
over turkish coffee in some dark bistro.
Wanted to hear them talk about him,
how much they longed to know him,
how they adored him —
maybe dance a waltz with a pretty girl
if the juke box had Strauss.
I offered Death Jimmy Santiago Bacca,
a one page Language of Life reading.
How Death was silent reading Jimmy’s words.
Ignored me, when I shouted,
READ IT OUT LOUD!
He shook his head sagely.
He got that poem.
Tore it out of the hardcover book,
folded the page precisely
placed it in his vest pocket.
Whispered over the back of his hand,
The guys on wall street
should read that poem,
before I declared them obsolete
Death reached my bookshelf,
grabbed a book of my poems,
opened to a random page,
read Drop The Bomb
in his silent way.
Critical mass filled the kitchen,
broke most of my dishes,
splashed dishwater to the floor,
but turned my lead pipe-fittings to gold.
He tore the page from my book
folded it precisely,
placed it in his hip pocket.
Death looked at me
through the lens of my words,
a searchlight from my prison tower.
He tracked me, scythe gripped
in an ancient hand full of poems,
tracked me all the way to HiFi Cafe —
xxxxxthere is poetry there on Fridays,
xxxxxall sorts of young intellectuals
xxxxxand a misfeathered angel,
xxxxxwho keeps poems in many pockets.
Clothed in captured poems,
Death sat drinking that turkish stuff, in this bistro,
listened to all the young intellectuals
read poems about date rape and child abuse,
drive-by shootings and drug over doses,
loveless fucking at fifteen and teen suicides.
He learned how the young intellectuals
long to embrace Death,
especially the pretty girls.
All of them wanted that long slow dance,
but at the HiFi Cafe
there is no Strauss on the juke box.
(originally posted at Tamafyhr Mountain Poetry’s “Under the Blue Umbrella”)