When I die and pass through the pearly gates
(a destination my born-again brother -- bless him! --
regards as fundamentally unlikely),
I will first seek out (if I have eyes to seek with)
Sergei Rachmaninov. I will thank him
from the bottom of my heart (wherever that may be)
and will admire (if I have ears to hear with)
whatever soul-stirring composition
he is playing on his harp.
And oh, how many of you I will want to hug
(if I have arms to hug with)—Mother, Vaughan, Vonnie, Ted, Jan,
Floyd Rinker, Darrell McClure, Ed Brecher, Jack, Shoshi . . .
All I ask is one hour with all my senses.
Surely this is not an unreasonable request.
I think not . . . therefore I am.
Don’t Look Down
After soaping my sparsely covered scalp
(once crowned with a copious cascade),
After sudsing and rinsing this wrinkled wreck
(once an almost perfect 36),
I step gingerly on the dingy decals,
(once an innocent white),
Clutch the pristine stainless steel
Installed by Ted, properly wary,
Taking care not to look down . . .
Those swollen ankles are too scary.
When I was tall and willowy,
How silly I was to imagine
These insults would never offend
My sense of self. Oh no, not me!
Would I rather be dead than
Deal with the doddering, the drool?
Certainly not, I’m cool.
I'll be ready for them
When Father Time and consort Death
Stroll hand-in-hand to my door.
I’ll say to them, (once I catch my breath),
How come? Surely there must be more,
As I shoo away the Bogeymen.
Shoo! Shoo! Don't darken my door again.
I'll let you know when
To harvest this old hen.