Arranging his hospital gown

to hide a black pubic flash,

he doesn’t seem to understand

the doctor’s indictment


For all the mayhem he’s wrought,

I want him safe from this cabal

of his children in a hurry,

shouting questions before he can

get his mouth to work into a reply

“How bad? How long? Hospice, maybe?

Cost per day? Oxygen? Quality of life?”


When the final verdict’s read –

Thanksgiving, maybe Christmas –

they slap him on the shoulder, relieved,

file out of the consultation room,

each with an exhortation:

“Call 911 if you fall, Pop”

“Think living trust”

“Write notes to yourself”

“Don’t sign anything”


He’s always given them another shot,

be it bourbon or forgiveness

Now he wants one too:

just to be taken home,

sit by a window in his recliner,

daydream of being with Marie again


An incorrigible lover of con men and outlaws,

I pray not for his soul, but for him to beat this rap,

free to live another lifetime of insanity and sin

Even a condemned man is granted last words