#1
The Chalkboard


You took your walker and a tennis ball
And lurched into the January night
The Florida air balmier than the piercing northeast
I grabbed the leash for the dog
Who's long known something's not right
But was too distracted by the evening's feast
We crept alone residential paths
With Baxter constantly distracted
By the howls and yelps of dissimilar breeds
You talked about cancer's wrath
And which Star Wars was best acted
In the dichotomous limbo of your disease

Was the fight tossed or already lost?
No answer can relieve the shock

The chalkboard above the mantle
Read, "Beat cancer. Live a full life"
And "We love you" from your mother and sisters
Kitchen full of things you can't handle:
Fatty foods and Italian wine
All the accoutrements you could afford to foster
Your hair grew back so quickly
Even as appetite declined
And your dwindling mortality festered
But seeing you bright, not so sickly
Gave us hope that you'd be fine
We all thought you would live through Easter

Was the fight tossed or already lost?
No answer can relieve the shock
Scoff God, curse what you want
Bereavement leave's already sought

Unable to more than whisper,
You took our call in the hospital
With your father denying the details
Triangulated with the doctor:
"It's a precaution - that's all"
With you laid up. Dying. Frail.
The last thing I heard you utter
Was from the pain which had you in thrall
Unearthly bellows from beyond the pale
God grants no peace in our vespers
Just all vanity and gall
We're ghost ships with torn sails

Was the fight tossed or already lost?
No answer can relieve the shock
From ICU to ICU tossed
Another vet the system forgot
I am a fake mountain.