Especially the big ones, the lights-out, no-time-to-negotiate
kaboomers. You can bargain with the little ones, beg
for another day, week, year. In the end, I'll ask for an extension
to see some as-yet unborn grandson's fifth grade recital.
Just wheel me in to see him in gold-buttoned blazer
and red tie. I'll be saying, Then you can take me, Lord—
I don't believe, but I like a name when I haggle.
One more trip to see Derain's London Bridge. Wheel me
one last time onto Bermuda sand. One more chance
to watch the weaving mass under the stars at Grand Central.
Then I'll go without a fight.
Sure I will. I'll lie like it's bedtime
and I'm four. You think I'll know when to go? You think
I'll make room for the kid waiting for my table? Maybe.
But I've always been bad at leaving parties, looking up to see
it's just me and the sleepy hosts. Always afraid
I'll miss something: Phil passed out on the sofa
with a mascara goatee, Chuck making out with the new au pair,
Dolan singing "Running Bear." No, I won't ever agree to leave.
In Praise of Heart Attacks
Not the sneaky kind at forty when your kids are seven and nine.
Not the cheap ones that fence you into smaller and smaller yards.
I'm talking massive coronary in the late 70's—82 tops.
Here to not here in an instant. I've seen the mind go slowly
from What was I saying? to How did we get here?
to There's a woman in our room trying to dress me. Not for me.
And the body dwindling from walking to walker to waiting
and wheezing? Slow decline into silence? Uh uh.
No sir. A massive stroke could do. Something sudden
and self-contained. No clean up. You're thinking it's bad luck
to say aloud. Or bad form. It's cruel to the survivors.
wipe your drool and your ass, try to remember who you were.
They should thank me. You think I'll chicken out? Maybe.
Maybe in the end, something's better than nothing.
But if there's a button I can push, I'm buying. So at let's say 78,
stop the Coumadin, the Heparin, the Beta Blockers,
the latest magic pill. No more static. Let the heart know
when it's time to go. Say farewell. Let's end this show on time.
Jack Powers teaches at Joel Barlow High School in Redding, Connecticut. His poems have appeared in Barrow Street, Cortland Review, and The Southern Poetry Review.