loss is a game i’ve failed to win

Death is young,

eternal.

Jacob may have wrestled the angel,
the angel may have been overcome,
but the angel was old
–angels are older than Milton
fer Chrissakes—
while Death is young.

Death is young,
young, dumb, full of cum:
the new guy at the office,
just THERE one day
–your desk,
your workstation,
with your password
is Death.

Death takes your size,
picks up your clothes from the cleaners,
fetches your groceries,
that brilliant 40% b.f. cheese.
Death bought you a new suit,
blue pin stripes,
“but i never wear suits.”
“You’d be surprised.”

Death is in the family,
agéd before your eyes,
increments of Easter, Christmas,
Hallowe’en
(your uncle’s bald spot given over to
full chemotherapy flower)
suddenly casketed,
a private ritual.
you had so much more to say
but maybe, maybe it’s better this way.
it was he who had nothing left to say
except maybe
“pain.”
and what have you to say
to pain?

Death might be my new young girl friend
who beckons, “Come to bed.”
I’m worn and spent,
up at 4am writing this.
Death’s opinion: the process of letters
on paper
is seclusive,
hostile.
but, of course it is, baby.
music notes of permanence,
requiring no orchestra, no singers,
flying beyond Death,
beyond the unholy trinity
of FUCK, EAT, WORK.
“Just come to bed,
for now.”

Death is the child
i cannot understand
cannot hear
see
touch
be anymore.

Death is young
at midnight in some flaming town,
wants to rage
black infernus
in my ears ‘til dawn,
drinking the dregs
of distraction
only to fall to sleeping
without writing any of it down.

Death doesn’t want the poem
i scrawled across plastic bag (trash)
because plastic bag (trash) is forever.
but Death is fond of “recycled poem”
Sharpie’d on cardboard,
immediately slipped
into the blue container:
this
is
something else
now.

Death is this new young girlfriend,
vital water drawn from my heart
with leg-tremble’d orgasm,
out-of-body (do i sound that ridiculous?)
orgasm.
Death wants to know, “Did you cum good?”
i can’t breathe.
she wants a little more of me.
i am empty.
pink flashbulbs fill my eyes
where she is sinking.
Death wants me to rise
and go look at the stars,
“Everything’s made of stardust,
even you, old man.”

no matter that Death came for every generation,
i am in denial.
they went quickly,
as though, had they remained,
they might have let something slip,
some choice words regarding the immense
‘AFTER’
from blue, pursed lips.
they went away quietly,
they, the uproarious,
the loud rebellious ones
–some ignorant, some unpolished, brilliant ones.
my old gone family,
all Orillia’s sons.
off they went, virtuous fools,
like schoolchildren.
i am in denial.

Death must be generous:
free cigarettes for Charlie Smith
(grandfather gone to throat cancer),
quaaludes not rescue for James Smith
(father, drowned in vomit),
boozeblood for Lee Clayton
(uncle, brown corpse balloon),
simple blue tongue of mercy for Steve Robertson
(cousin and suicidal hangman).
quietly
they were led
out of my denial.

Death is young and ON me,
coming home exhausted,
ON me
when I want to write,
ON me
when I try to paint,
ON me
should I wish to construct
some red ENORMITY
on the lawn
with the neighbour’s patio furniture,
the landlord’s sideboards,
my own last towel.
ON ME so I can’t think,
am afraid.
have only blue paint.
stupid,
blank inside with vodka,
ending,
always ending.

Death draws near,
“Come to bed,
I want you,
come to bed,
there’s always morning,
come to bed,
your pulse is racing,
Oh, COME ON!
COME ON!
YOU NEVER LOVE ME ANYMORE,
NOT THE WAY YOU USED TO!”

it’s true.
“YOU NEVER FUCK ME ANYMORE,
NOT THE WAY YOU USED TO!”
And it’s true.
I watch myself fall
to those seminal sheets
(you can’t go back, you can’t take one step back).
her breath is hot on my cheek,
“I thought of you
today.”

aw, Death means well,
clearing way for newborns,
building towns of careful,
grassy plots,
busy with wars,
plagues,
burning history up to our backdoors,
pesticides.

Death works harder than any of us,
harder than a single mother.
she, who would only bring
one light into the room,
one, ten times,
while Death will paint the black
beyond the understanding
of black,
Death will empty the room
ending the light,
always ending.

ah, Death moves well.
her long white fingers
like antlers
caress my side.
i’ll be naked as with birth
until they sew me,
powder me,
lipstick (all this, if i’m lucky).
the blue pin stripes
from the dark closet queue
(moon rays).

i’d like to go quickly,
quietly,
but have made grievous errors
in judgement.

i can’t help it,
Death wants to wash me
in shameful forget
before i go.

i can’t help it,

Death wants my life
to fade to pills,
endless night corridors
lit with exit signs.
the night desk
before i go

it’s senseless.
a doctor grieves the patient’s visit
(oh tell him, tell the pain, exquisite).

i can’t help it,
Death wants this tribute,
wants the child
to cry out
lastly
for a dead mother.

i can’t help it,
it’s senseless,
these endings
–the dust-resistant bed-springs.

– Clay McCann

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