Deadsong

          I.

 

I will die in a gasping panic

with plastic in my windpipe.

 

            II.

 

I will die in a rat-king

of shrapnel and rubber,

piecemeal by the interstate.

 

(It will be my fault –

I do get moony.)

 

            III.

 

I will die trying to fix

a household appliance

I do not understand.

 

            IV.

 

I will die the way my father

says I will: trying to pet some

wild and cornered creature.

 

            V.

 

I will die the way my mother

says I will: famous and ancient,

painless in my sleep.

 

            VI.

 

I will die upon the hatchet

of a charismatic maniac.

 

(I am always inviting

vampires inside.)

 

            VII.

 

I will die from a benzo overdose,

which I’m told is uncommon.

 

(Cessation is worse.)

 

            VIII.

 

I will die concussed and

bloody on the halfpipe.

 

(I am too old to ollie but

the urge is only growing.)

 

            IX.

 

I will die in the desert,

molting like a cicada.

 

(I will not remember

how I got there. I will

try to drink the sand.)

 

            X.

 

I will die when the mole I’m told

to monitor goes melanoma.

 

(I am building a guest

room for the cancer.)

 

            XI.

 

I will die early in the fracas

when the Trumpists come blasting.

 

(I’m a partisan, to be sure,

but my body is soft

and flinching.)

 

            XII.

 

I will die, uninsured,

of some curable malady.

 

(Debt is a splintering pillory.

A lifetime of little deaths.)

 

            XIII.

 

I will die the way that men do,

never having apologized,

barnacled with secrets.

 

            XIV.

 

I will die of shame

at a cocktail party.

 

(My solar plexus tells

me this is possible.)

 

            XV.

 

I will die at sea,

reefing the mainsail

to balance the tempest.

 

I will die when

Leviathan rises

from the wet,

 

a shadow on shadows,

and asks me her

unanswerable question.

This poem was originally published in Issue 20.2 of Harpur Palate.