The Shell Game

On the day I will likely die
I will not likely be heroic,
falling for a cause in a leaden rain,
protecting others with torn flesh.

It’s not at all clear today
how I’ll die on that day, of course,
but it likely won’t happen during
some last stand for my beliefs,
some war for my soul,
some battle I choose
or one that comes to me 
against my will
only to be grimly faced
by me as warrior,
me as fighter,
me as memorial in waiting.

I will likely not be mourned
by those who never knew me
but who may choose to honor me
based 
solely on what symbolic message
my death will send.  I will likely not
show up on an historic death list
afterward, commemorated yearly
by ceremonies, bowed heads
in a classroom or office,
a pretty average song
written by a pretty average songwriter
played on a pretty average radio station.

No.

When I go, I’ll likely be bedridden,
poor in dollars and cents and sense, 
shitting and pissing myself,
wispy under stiff yellowed sheets
in a stiff, puke-green room;

or just as likely
I’ll be in whatever passes for my own home
doing all those same things unattended;

or just as likely
I’ll pass in a crap car wrecked in some crap fashion
by my own mistake or deliberate hand.

When it’s done they’ll truck me off 
from wherever I happen to fall
as hazardous waste to be handled
with due care and precaution
until I’m disposed of. 

Fine, then.  Anyway it happens,
it will be fine.

It’s always a shell game at closing time;
you end up under some shifting cover
while someone tries to call out
the one that holds you, 

seeking a win from your presence
or your absence.

However that plays out on that day

what I was will be gone
in any one of a number
of likely or unlikely ways
that won’t matter to me.
I would like it to matter to someone.
I do what I can to make that so
but when that final shell
is at last raised,

what’s underneath
won’t be up to me.

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About Tony Brown

A poet with a history in slam, lots of publications; my personal poetry and a little bit of daily life and opinions. Read the page called "About..." for the details. View all posts by Tony Brown

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