Sunday, April 15, 2012

14 of 30 Elegy for Tom King

Your junkie girlfriend in tow,
you came to my place, asking for a future
for a spread of cards that said something other than they said
other than the slaves chained at the foot of the devil,
other than death's pale rose

You were a drummer, and a good one
and I have played sloppy drunken slayer riffs with you
farther into the night than we should have,
the double bass steady as a doomsday clock
shared coke reeking of ether on a bar toilet tank
and I told you, even then
in the midst of my own dying
to stop

you could not stop
when you were climbing, building cell phone and radio towers
dangling on safety lines above the birds
did not stop in Africa,
shooting still with dirty needles,
the company refusing to fly you home
the poison spreading through your blood and your fever

and home, they amputated your hands,
leaving you two tattooed drumsticks
to hold, and fingerless, you could not tie off
could not press the plunger, and stopped

until you begged your friends, and they
tied off your severed arms, shot you full
of stopping, of white flowers, of the end of the story

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