July 24-August 13, 2000: Michael McNeilley


week of July 24-August 13, 2000

Michael McNeilley

in memorium
October 19, 1945-July 16, 2000

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Michael McNeilley

Obituary by Francis Till (henry1@ihug.co.nz)

.I know the
rhythm, two beats together, then not quite
too long a pause and it repeats, moving
the blood through me, just as your breath
on my eyelids begins and ends each day and when you come to me in the night
you are whole again, and all is as it
should be, as if you’d never left
MCN-Dance of the Sun and the Moon

DIED: Phillip Michael McNeilley, poet, writer, artist, boxer, on July 16, 2000, at 11:20 p.m in Las Cruces, New Mexico, of complications following a heart attack
McNeilley was born in Dallas, Texas, on October 19, 1945, and is survived by two sons, Tom and Brooks, in Olympia, Washington; a daughter, Carol Ann Owens, whereabouts unknown; his mother and sister; Stephanie Brooks, mother to his sons; and Elaine Thomas, the loving friend and partner with whom he was living in Las Cruces
A poet of international renown, McNeilley published extensively on the internet, and was among the very first to mix poetry with that medium He was the founding editor of the Olympia Review, and the author of several print books of poetry and prose, most recently “Situational Reality”, by Dream Horse Press (May 1999) An Honors graduate of the University of Colorado, McNeilley held many jobs in the course of a full life As a teenager, he lost a leg in a motorcycle accident, cutting short a promising career as a boxer, and moved from there into literature At the time of his death, he was co-editor of the well known, online e-Zine Zero City, with JJ Webb In the past, McNeilley was Founding Director of the National Student News Service; worked as a reporter and correspondent in Washington, DC; and has published hundreds of poems and stories in magazines such as New York Quarterly, New Delta Review, Eclectica, Poet, Poetry Super Highway, Chicago Review, Oyster Boy Review, Cross-Connect, Sonoma Mandala, Hyphen, Minotaur, Slipstream, Cafe Review, Pink Cadillac, Chiron Review, Poetry Motel, Plazm, DAM, Lilliput Review, Boulliabaisse, Writers’s Forum, Green Fuse, Rockford Review, Mississippi Review, God’s Bar Unplugged, Impetus, Tight, xib, Penny Dreadful, Exquisite Corpse, Atom Mind, Wooden Head Review and elsewhere, including websites worldwide His work has been translated into at least four languages and published in several countries, including England, Bolivia, Chile, Germany, Spain, and New Zealand
McNeilley frequently used MCN as his signature, and major engine searches on the internet for his work under either MCN or McNeilley tend to return thousands of pages, making him one of the most prolific of recognized American poets
Wakes and memorial services are being coordinated for McNeilley in Seattle, Olympia, Las Cruces, San Francisco, Kent, New York City, Portland, and Auckland (NZ), among other places, by the many hundreds of his dedicated fans and friends around the world Most will occur on Saturday, July 22, 2000, and will be linked in virtual space through various live performance media
Attempts are also underway to collect and collate all McNeilley’s work-which amounts to several thousand poems and stories, as well as hundreds of drawings and prints-online Numerous tribute sites have already sprung up, including one at and this special issue of the Poetry Super Highway

Dennis Gaughan, Editor of Poetry Cafe, wrote of McNeiley’s work that: Michael McNeilley writes poetry like a whisper in your ear at a party, saving you the bother of wasting time on a boring guest, so you can focus on what really matters
That whisper in the ear will be deeply missed by all who knew him.


Michael McNeilley was my best friend We went to university together and our lives have been a pile of spaghetti ever since When he died, I began to discover how many others I shared that plate with hundreds of friends, bound together by love for him, as a poet and as a man
Most of those relationships were forged online, as it turns out, although he was a gipsy in life and unforgettable when met in a bar or a bookstore Online, though, his community was enormous, the largest of anyone I know People read his work in places like this and wrote to him about it-he always wrote back Over the years, this came to mean that his email
Morepork’s* (http://www.owlpages.com/species/boobook/index.html) call sounded almost incessantly, and that many of those virtual meetings also developed into physical friendships as people came to visit, or he went off to readings around the country
This week, all of those people are grieving, the ones he met and those he never had a chance to meet, alike
Part of why so many of us are so deeply affected by his death is evident in his poetry Michael was among the most prolific of poets, and all of it is personal He had a way of turning his unique moments into words that elevated all of our own, that taught us new ways of seeing, and feeling Even ordinary things like the smell of coffee or a lover glimpsed in a doorway at dawn were elevated in Michael’s poems to an almost iconic status He made the ordinary rare and imbued it with the full measure of its often overlooked but rightful grace and power
And that is also the way he lived When Michael paid attention to you, he really paid attention He always heard you and he always knew what you meant, what you really meant Don’t misunderstand this-there was no Pollyanna in the man, none at all There was a lot about life he didn’t like, and a lot of people he would not suffer He was at least as eloquent in the expression of contempt and derision as he was in celebration of beauty and genius, and that was part of his charm You wanted him to like you, and if there was any reason for this to happen, he would find it He found it in most of us, and he showed it to us, often when we needed it most
Michael was fully immersed in life, and that immersion shows in all his work Now we are all fully immersed in his death, and it shows in the way so many are reaching out to one another in the communities we share, online and off
It is a terrible thing that Michael has died His writing is only one of his legacies, however The love so many feel for him is the true measure of who he was, and the largest gift he gave to us all In a way, the fact that his heart brought his death should come as no surprise: he simply used it up, large as it was
I’ll miss you, always, my friend Rest in peace, unconfined at last
frank till
auckland, nz 2000

Notes from Janet Bernichon (Akajanetb@aol.com)

We called ourselves , “The Three Amigos ” Michael, Virgil and me We met on Prodigy in 1993, in God’s Bar and Grill over poetry and politics Mike was about to publish the Olympia Review Virgil, “Unplugged ” I started writing again after ten years
Right now I am so overcome with loss, I find it hard to write about Mike He was my mentor He was there when my life spiraled out of control He was kind and gentle He was the painful truth and a pain in the ass He was full of life, hell, and yes, at times, shit I went to visit “Earth Sucks,” the strange satirical alien site we co edited and found it was gone I guess
Techline thought it was too tasteless to reside on their property so they killed it Nice timing, Techline
We have lost that clear and unmistakable voice:

sharp and well aimed, the scalpel,
too late the heart
broken again in some noble way
(from Smaller Things)

The following work is Copyright © 2000, by Michael McNeilley and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.


today was the second time
in as many weeks
I ran across a message
describing me as
“confined to a wheelchair”

and I’m sitting on one
as I type this
but I’m not duct taped to the thing
it’s not bolted
to my ass

I know even those people
who use the things
for every waking movement
who can’t get into bed
by themselves
hate the word

like there was a trial
and either they were
guilty or had a cheap
lawyer and the
gavel came down

in some ways I guess
it can be like that
but in some ways I think
everybody’s life
is like that

I want to go
take a piss
I stand up and hop
over and pull it out
like most guys

but even a guy
I met once who
had this big metal
plastic robot to move
him around
turned bright red

when somebody
described him as

“come over here
and suck my tube
you dumbass”
he said
which I thought was pretty good

I don’t turn red
about something like
that though for me
the confinement
is much less that
that guy’s

I’m confined to this
but that’s only by
lack of money
later in the month
and even then
I can go outside
for nothing

I can still beat you
to the door at least
half the time
the door you try
to open for me

and I can pick you up
hold you over my head
with arms that have been
pushing my big ass up
hills for a while now

and I can get into bed
by myself
although I don’t much like
being by myself
once I get there

and luckily
there are still a few
women who know me
better and there is
always the odd chance

my pal Frank once said
“women are attracted
to you cause they think
you’re interesting but
by the time they find out
the truth
it’s too late “

All that’s actually missing
is my left foot

I’ve had fake ones
over the years
lots of them
man those fuckers
are expensive
I don’t have one
right now

not one that works
but everything else
though the eyes
are fading from
too much reading just like
mom said they would
and the breath

comes more slowly
if the hills are steep
and the heart
is a mass of duct tape
and baling wire
and glue

“What happened
to the foot?” several
women have asked me

“into the trash” I tell some
carried off by a coyote
shark bit it off
buried in red mud somewhere
ashes over the ocean
dust to dust

I gnawed it off
to get out of my
first marriage
I’ve got lots of lines

if I’m confined to anything
it’s the fucking

that have defined my
life into this
corner where it now sits
on this chair

so I don’t mind the people
who use that word
confined because
it means nothing to them
more like a stick figure
kids draw to represent
it’s a sign

in the semiotic sense
a symbol
a phrase like
“shit happens”
not some sort of

call me
call me
“differently- abled”
talk about my “bravery
in dealing with adversity”
I will give you some shit

but aside from all that
I’m thinking
maybe some medical
supply house will sell me
a set of foot bones

I could keep in a box
in a drawer by the bed
to pull out
when the question
comes again
as to where
it went

I want to find the woman
who would cuddle them
rest them between
her breasts
and kiss me

Say Goodbye

It’s like Frank said when
he worked in the pound,
killed all those dogs

in the evacuator, sucked the life
out of them in the oxygen
deprivation chamber:

he took a lot of them home,
the cute ones, the ones he
couldn’t bear to kill –

the ones he wanted to save,
and they ran out in the

broke their chains and disappeared;
one got killed in a fight,
another ate rat poison
One way or another they died,
every last damned
one of them
One day someone came in with
5 perfect poodle puppies
and Frank was told

to kill 4 and save one The choice of
who lived and who died was left
up to Frank,

so he took the runt of the litter,
the one who seemed he could

and he killed the 4 best ones,
reduced their air pressure
to that at 30,000 feet,

where they puked their hearts out
like all the others he
“put to sleep,”

and took the little one and put him
up front in a tiny cage,
where he would appear

pathetic to the general public,
some of whom selected him and
took him home that very day,

but who returned the next week
for another puppy, saying
the one they got

had “just died He was fine and then
he died The kids are all
broken up” they said
And they wanted to know if there was
a money-back
You can’t save anybody, Frank decided,
the system takes over
and that’s that
After a while Frank stopped
taking any of them home Frank modified

his objectives, but you can’t say
he ever really gave up on them Like Frank said,

“I don’t want to save them, not really,
I just want to rub their
fucking ears “

And he rubbed their ears, the furry discards,
the smart ones, the dumb ones,
the old and the young,

the rejects, the crippled and lame, the ones
with bad markings, the wrong coloration,
With problems beyond

their understanding And each time before
he put them in the chamber, he looked
into their eyes
And if there was no salvation, if there was
no redemption, at least there was
someone to say goodbye.

Long Division

I do not know as yet how many
of you there are, though there must be
many of you I have not met, as there
are many of you in me,

and many more without Nor do I know how many times
you goes into me, or me
into you, as it must proceed

there are many of me as well I do know that not all of us
have met, as I do not expect
all ever will, or even think

it likely we should try The lines
that run from there to here
between us are much longer than
the lines connecting me to you

and you to me, though some of these
are strong enough to bear the weight
they must What comes between,
anticipation only serves to justify

in retrospect; there is no scale to measure
what will happen next, or where
each line will lead, or what divides
our fragile we into its dividends,

nor what remainders might obtain
should we reduce to you and me again So there can be in this no summing
up, no quantity interpolating

postulates withheld, no way to put
a number to our days, as only time
resolves I only know the fulcrum
approximates equality as best it can,

though we must stand like butchers in
our stained white coats, rounding up
and down the costs and weights, uncertain
furtive thumbs pressed to the scales of fate.

I would write you a poem

because you like it when I do,
if I had anything to say, but if
I have I could not tell you what
and you think I can always write
another poem, that there’s a switch
inside my head I can turn on

and a poem will appear and you think
there must be a light inside me that
never goes out but one day one

of these poems will be the last one,
and it could very well be this one,
or the one before and if there is

a light in me perhaps it’s more
firefly than flame, more like
a simple absence of darkness,

though there may be something in me
that will not let the dark remain
where light could shine but if

there is, this is a thing that
will not play games with windows,
or illuminate small things

that hide for their own safety, things
that light could shrink or fade I would
write you a poem if I had something

to say, something that needed saying,
some small candle to the shadows
of doubt or indecision, but this

is all I have for now that I hold
a light within me that is yours, that it
shines for you as you may wish, and that

you may burn down the wick without
asking, or snuff it out, or read quiet by
its glow, or fly into the flame.

The turtle who looked at Napoleon

Exiled to Saint Helena
in the South Atlantic, in 1815 Napoleon turned
to gardening, turning the soil with the
simple implements at hand, spacing the tiny seeds
in straight long rows with military precision
Napoleon’s jailer, Sir Hudson Lowe found
himself as bothered by rows of the Corsican Guard disguised
as radishes, ranked across the earth outside
his office window, as by Napoleon’s contentment In a singular act of creative malevolence,

Lowe sent off to the Galapagos
for two giant land turtles The frigate bearing them arrived,
Lowe named the turtles Jonathan and Josephine
and set them loose in the garden of Napoleon
Bulldozers by nature,
the giant tortoises nosed up and
swallowed down the radishes, tomatoes,
turnips, carrots and onions, smearing
Napoleon’s careful rows into the dust
Over morning coffee, through office window bars
Sir Hudson sat smiling at Napoleon’s eaten and
uprooted, flattened garden One day as he watched, Napoleon himself
rounded the corner, moving slowly, contemplating the sea
Dressed in gardener’s tunic, head towel-draped
against the heat of the South Atlantic sun,
Napoleon bumped along, crouched on the back of
Jonathan, eyes straining past the breakers, as if
to spot Nelson’s flagship
Lowe watched, somewhat dismayed
as Napoleon surveyed
the sea from his rolling helm,
squinting into the noon sun for the
mirage of his emancipation
But Napoleon died in 1821, his power drained,
unable to adapt to turtle life:
powerless to attain contentment
in slow uncoverings, green vegetation
and long waiting
Wild goats pulled up the grass of the Galapagos,
and the big land turtles suffered starvation, their
ancient ranks further thinned by sailors
who found them excellent for soup and shell But fine grass grew on the grave of Napoleon, and

on the grave of Jonathan’s mate, who died soon after
of some turtle disease A turtle grieves long,
but Saint Helena offers
food and good weather,

and Jonathan remains there today, lifting his old head
among the flies, “Bonaparte,” still barely legible,
carved low near the rim of his giant shell Jonathan opens a red-rimmed, baleful eye
to the morning,

an eye that gazed upon Napoleon,
the eye of a turtle of destiny, who thought
no more of the little man long ago riding
than he thinks of today’s flies But Jonathan still

considers the radishes, as they
arrive each day at sunset,
compliments of the British government,
a longtime legacy of Sir Hudson Lowe,
and Jonathan is often content
In 1840 Napoleon’s remains
were shipped to Paris; In the compound in Saint Helena
little of Napoleon but his death mask now remains Not even a tree grows there still, that gave Napoleon shade But Jonathan moves slowly on

across the volcanic surface,
through what once was a garden, resolute,
his three-chambered heart slowly beating,
eye upon a nearby clump of grass, as green
and new as once upon Galapagos.


he always smells like turquoise i always smell like jade he always smells like penis thumps
in the confusion where i part my hair
and he hands me a knife
when necessary straight up
back when he was hockin’ shit
to stay drunk,
surviving on bagels
and handcuffs,
the sneaker of Dorian Grey
kept his blood sugar
up where he could see it
mcneilley, mclaughlin, nelson, bernichon
hervey, J9
april, 1996
athens, ohio

cold fuck

it’s like leaving
a little something on your plate
for the leprechauns

like Nietzche said
live long enough, you run the risk
of living too long

the final experience
common to us all
can’t be shared in any case

why leave
the greatest fear
in the lap of chance

when the last cold kiss
so deep its freedom alone
is beauty unending

the rope the bullet
the leap
the razor the gas pipe

radio in the bathtub of my
heart the blade dropped
the plug pulled

curtain of dusty wings
last cold fuck
of life   

Published in Robt Howington’s The Usual Suspects

swing low

up the hill
in new hiking boots
backpack full of music
he climbed an old elm
and opened the wine

as each cassette ended
he tossed it
into the bushes
as the sky reddened
he removed his belt

finding nothing
left undone
having found nothing
worth dying for
he swung out

jerked a few leaves
off the limb
and rode
the last beam
into sundown

Syncretic Intussuption

A hand against a slender arch of back 
a curve undescribed 
its radius of a calculus as eventful 
in theory as in application 
still despite our finest efforts 
we remain unconvinced 
of our beauty 
our strength 
so we do what we must 
must do what we must 
we reach for one another 
down distances like interstellar highways 
and there in the space between 
what is known and 
what is thought 
hope lies waiting


I’m not doing these
damn dishes
shit I said

and I was upside down
in an instant
a cartwheel
toward the door
which was open

but the screen was not
and I went out flying
headfirst through
the screen then
the trellis
and into the roses

lying in the
wire screen
wrapped around my
head shattered
rose trellis

and he was
standing on the
porch and all
he said was
never talk
to your mother
that way

no shoes
I scrambled up
shook off all those
american beauty
rose petals
and jumped

the white
picket fence

only thunder

it makes
no sense
how love can grind
the heart
though intention counts
for something
it is not fatal
on its own
you don’t die until
the car hits
the bridge abutment
the mind plays tricks
but illusion is
essentially benign
you don’t drown
until the water
has risen
you are not eaten
by the lion’s
silent stare
thunder cannot
split the tree
blood is tangible
and no matter
the distance
the fall
won’t kill you
until you step out
into the

published in Eclectica


just past the
nerve endings
the fire is only warmth
the boulder the anvil
the giant box of dynamite
the truck the train the red
rocket a small box
of polished stones

anything to avoid
being the last one
on the gurney
tubes and wires
crying out for more
noise more

It’s been sunny here, for March

In the weeks after my brother died
I kept coming up with questions
I wanted to ask him
Not the obvious one, not
“why the fuck why now?” I thought
I knew the answer to that
And I wanted to kick his ass
like I never did when we were kids,
he had no right, but

the questions were simpler ones:
“When is the Telluride bluegrass festival?”
“Do you still miss your kids?”

“Is this one of your tapes, or mine?”
“Do you think the shed roof
will last the winter?”

and more, not even questions:
“I saw a truck I think you might like “
“We could throw the football around “

“We should give mom a call “
“I know a woman you should meet “
“Let’s go have a beer “

And I know I won’t see him again,
but still these thoughts come, if not
as often as they used to
Now you’re out there somewhere,
and I can’t reach you, and there’s no
problem with that, but

for the questions, the things
I would say to you, the small offerings
I would make, if I could
I found a great Japanese restaurant You might like some of these poems I wish I could stop smoking
There are daffodils up all around I had a strange idea for a story I dreamed of you again
In the dream my brother was there,
and my dad, I could smell his Old Spice You were both smoking Camels

and talking, he was flirting with you
like he would have done, you were
laughing, your hair brushing

against my cheek, sitting
close together around a small table My brother was smiling
The cabin in Colorado, that tiny
kitchen, my mother vacuuming
small dogs barking
The cat woke me up, purring It was good to see all of you again Now it’s almost morning.

one possible scenario

in the unlikely event of a water landing
the heart may be used as a flotation device

turn the heart over and slip your arms
through the straps you will find beneath the ventricles

move in an orderly fashion to the anterior sphincter
remain calm and await your turn

the heart will provide negative bouyancy
remember to continue to breathe normally

wait until your name is announced
then come to the white paging telephone


how much our lives
together were like
2 cats fucking

perched on a fence
you screaming
get it over with

me with one eye open
for the flying boot
of god

As you eat white asparagus with mayonnaise

As you eat white asparagus with mayonnaise:
single black olive, on the end of my finger,
and is this montrachet, or graves, or semillon?
The fragrant bright pink salmon waits, poached with dill sauce,
as you eat white asparagus with mayonnaise
Your lips, parted in the beginning of a smile:
and as you gesture with the chilled and supple staff,
a brilliant white on white and cometary flair,
a blonde wave curls across your forehead A glint of
gold chases the peripheral flash of your hand,

as you eat white asparagus with mayonnaise I break a roll, my eyes upon the slender stalk,
hand halfway to my mouth, overcome against my
will, all thoughts of this dinner past my reckoning,
as you eat white asparagus with mayonnaise.

Smaller Things

They’ll always be times
when chance costs someone an ear:
.a safe drops from 12 stories,
.lands squarly on Fred .the bumper of a car clips off
.the motorcyclist’s leg at the knee .the bullet hits home, the knife
.sharp and well aimed, the scapula,
.too late the heart
broken again in some noble way
But thoses times
are of a certain size:
.give something while taking,
.hold an edge
.of fate or destiny:
struggle uplifts and
any victory, however small
against overwhelming odds,
honors beyond proportion,
as even defeat can bring
the distinction due to one
.worthy of attention
.of larger forces in the world
Lachesis, Clotho, Atropos
.the mythology of destiny romantic:
the grand etiology,
a cause in itself,
may make all the papers,
may influence recollection
.He was always SanPaku .On the knees of the Gods .Cast in Karma her Camille eyes .it could happen
.to anybody
Or could change history:
.begging the question of potential,
.one an cast other vectors as well Camus’ car spins back to control
at the last second;
Napoleon’s jailer leaves the keys in the door;
Hitler steps in front of a bus,
showering the intersection
with brushes and paint and
everything changes Anything can or could happen
.that which does not happen
.gathers notice in its way
But there, unnoticed
.beneath the big events,
.below the chance of non events,
among thoses things remembered
.more important things forgotten,
.because they left no trace:
not the man who invented
the one-way time machine;
not the great events of
prehistory like
fire, the wheel, or
the first alien contact, no
.smaller things
Napoleon’s hemorrhoids,
Washington’s painful wooden teeth
.finally came out;
but not the painting
Gaughin never did
that day he lost his wallet
spent hours looking for it
painting forgotten nothing
in the wallet but
a receipt for
some paint
Not the many world rulers,
.or fated-to-be world rulers
of someone’s paradox irony:
.the pre-Sadats, potential Amins
.stolen from the fate
.as they die on their tricycles
.beneath a trash truck with a
.broken rear view mirror
.sign on the side reading
Kismet Disposal
satisfaction guaranteed or
double your trash back
But smaller things:
the loose button on
.Al Butterfield’s motel mattress
.the night before he
.testified at the
.Watergatee hearings,
.nodded his head and said the word
tapes We all need our sleep The motorcycle backfire
.that forever obscured
.what really happened in Dallas That crucial document
.that blew out the window
.while nobody watches at all: smaller things
than fate
On a hill
high above Innsbruck
a snow rabbit craps on a rock
.and one rabbit bean rolls
.bouncing down it picks up snow,
.snowballs down the hill,
.ever and ever larger and
an avalanche
.buries Innsbruck, Austria,
during the tourist season,
crushes the Austrian economy as well,
4,000 killed by one rabbit bean:

some of whom
.were on the brink of divorce
.from one slipped misspoken word:
some of whom
.failed to escape
.having left off too long
.replacing the battery in the Saab,
and the town drunk
.sleeps through it all in the park,
.wakes hours later,
.mumbling, untouched
.You can work, fight, pray,
.account for all obvious conditions;
command a million accountants;
move mountains with machinery;
plan the perfect crime;
.and a woman loses a button,
.a shoelace breaks,
.the elevator sticks and
.the books come forever unbalanced;
.the mountains fall on the machinery;
.vaporlocks the getaway car some
smaller thing
As through history,
major battles won or lost
.not in the tactical theorizing
.that fills 400 pages of
.The Battle of Antietam,
but the general’s horse that
comes down with the runs;
someone’s fleeting memory
of unrequited love;
the stray bullet that killed the one
no one knew
had the plan
And the battle rages, hanging
.on the multiple minor incidents
.like misspelled words,
.changing the probabilities,
.then changing them back again
Could this mean
nothing you can do matters?

.Of course not But in fact, you can do
everything wrong,
and even so be saved
by smaller things
.What you do still determines
.the conditions upon which these
.smaller things act,
but not upon the operation,
.the determining factor,
.that spins the wheel
You could have turned up the stereo
a little louder last night,
.except you had a headache,
.caused by one beer too many,
.cause you had a bad day,
.the boss chewed you out,
.and it easn’t your fault
.the Xerox locked up
.or you would haved turned up the steeeeeeroe
like you usually do,
.and been killed by a pasing maniac
(that song reminds him of his father)
.but he couldn’t quite make out
.as he walked by your window,
.mind full of worms
Your’re still alive
.Never yet set the bed on fire .Never caught your hair in a fanbelt .Never fished a radio
.out of the dishwater
you never stepped off the wrong curb,
or you wouldn’t be reading this,
someone else would be reading this,
or no one would be reading this,
but neither did I,
not yet
Still any day just because
someone had a rough night,
or doesn’t like bananas,
or slept with her uncle or lives in Cincinnati,
or ate too many beans,
or forgot to get gas,
or just got a raise,
or broke the zipper on his
new designer jeans,
or didn’t change the sheets,
or thinks it is Monday, it happens:

and you drive right past that bag of money He passes through the door and
turns the corner that moment before you
.She walks up and smiles .The safe misses Fred and lands on you instead,
.and you die or live or meet or
.never meet, miss out, win or lose
on some inexcusably minor
smaller thing
I lie here waiting for the phone to ring
.Wondering do I have
.enough money, enough cigarettes,
.enough scotch,
.enough time Or does it really matter,
.and if so to whom but me: really at
.the bottom
.does it matter to me?

How can it if I miss something?
How can I care for the thing unseen,
the thing that does not happen,
or know why what does, as I curse the
highway flat, lock in my keys,
have one drink too many, and call
one minute after you close the door,
tears in your eyes
And I lie back again,
the poem I would have written
replaced by an urge
for pizza


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