Don’t Be Dry

My dry-eye Granny used to say:
if you can’t afford eye drops,
watch a friend die
and cry a lot

Heard she took
corn mash and a still
into the back acres, overgrown
in hiding leaves born from branching
sorrows treed by haggard stalking-cats

Heard
Granny purred at the moon
the night a jug of moonshine
killed her arthritis and
herself in her ancient treehouse
as blessed as an innocent child

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The Last Atheist

The Last Atheist

You are the only magic
that I believe in,
my dear wife who still prays
when I don’t

Peek-a-boo
I see you
in I.C.U.

I find joy in watching you hug
the many tenets of your faith like
teddy bears of God, because
your cuteness is kind.

You smile
and I see in our flowing eyes
you are my talisman, my
magic pool, and
I swim in you

but stay, and though you pray, I
don’t want a higher power. I
want you to
tell me a story, to
stay with me at my bed, and
I think that

the growing grape
doesn’t care
about the wine, cares not
to make a point — no spirits
in these many things of nature, but

I’m intoxicated by your spirit
your smile. Hug me like
I’m a teddy bear of God
and I make

a toast from the brink of death:
show me the magic
before I go drink oblivion
and tell me the lie
you’ll never leave me

You are the
only magic
I believe in

But I will die
little
a point vanishing
nothing remaining for me.
To myself
I will have never been

and if I ever loved you
I will not know

and if you ever loved me
I will not feel it because
to me, I will have never existed

I will be forever nothing
unless

you could save me forever
not as a memory
but as me, myself
and we — I mind that
I could not kiss you
if I were a mist in time

Show me the magic
or hearty spirits, but

I do not wish to haunt you, and
you deserve more than dust

Must you go from me or
must I go as a vapor?

Show me the magic,
woman of my dreams.
I swim in you.

Before I go far out of my mind
you must tell me a lie:
tell me you are God, though

perhaps
you could be my angel

Perhaps
your spirit will carry me to heaven —

seems plausible
for an angel, and
you are beautiful magic
but

how will I kiss you again
if you won’t teach me
the magic of your tales. Explain the
phosphorescent creatures in your fables
who swim in seas of ineffables
and let me drink your glow
if these be souls

Show me the magic:
any miracle will do.
I believe in you.

Be happy for now, and
don’t miss me.
I will have never been.
Good-bye.
—Douglas Gilbert

On Being Cheerful

Some creamy ice
though cold and white
has no cherry on top
but only stones below, although
its photo is nice, its
clouds majestic, this mountain

Down and cold just below its top
the mountain piques me, takes
me down without a flag, an
inglorious retreat from ledge of death
no prize for frost; I
fall on shattered icicles cutting
crystalline loneliness, an
avalanche without prayer; I

haven’t reached any peak, for
never in the valley without song
were cheerleaders
ever real in off-time chants
a game without purpose
within a pompon face
a Kabuki without soul in
made up role
rolling seasons of bland
blandished like
roly-poly trophies
for pudgy spirits
unrisen dough
rolled to be crusty
never wrapped around
fruitful filling,
never in the valley where all were
drab stand-offs off-putting
waiting to putt on dull greens
show off
send random climbers
to their deaths
for amusement, gossip, and
news about brave fools
up a mountain without a fog horn
or paddle from an ark

Alone and down
I walk away from
ledges of death
to icicles that
shatter like glass
cut many ways

Rose colored blooms of blood blossom
thorny questions, because

Positive spin
had made me nauseous
dizzy

peppered in pep-talk, I had
sneezed ideas as common as pollen,
few flowers to share

cold
I descend now

Alone
I won’t mind
a glass of wine, and
death without
another winter, but

my orchard remains. I
reach for one
last summer.
Barks.

Does someone come?
I am afraid