My Lost Years

I didn’t make much selling life

insurance, barely enough

to put food on the wobbly

table, beer mats wedged

under its short leg. In much 

that way, my rented trailer,

red & rusted, sat atop                          

cinder blocks & bricks

at the end of a gravel 

road by a cemetery.

I didn’t have many guests—

hell, I never had

any, if I’m honest.  Still

life in a graveyard wasn’t

without its perks.  For instance,

nobody complained

if I cranked up Black Sabbath

at midnight or Atomic

Rooster at the crack of dawn.

For another thing,

once I got beyond the thought

of death surrounding me,

it was almost beautiful,

green waves shimmering

in the breeze, dirty, broken-

winged angels keeping vigil

in stone, & flowers of all

colors & kinds, though

mostly artificial.  At

night,  only crickets, singing

in the choir invisible,                          

broke the silence with 

an earthy dirge.  But there was           

no money in their song.  Nor  

in selling “repurposed” wreaths

to heavy hearted,

empty-handed mourners.  So

I started working evenings 

part-time at a diner.  Just

till things turn around,

I told myself.  “There’s always

the war,” said Liz, a server

I’d become friendly with, “or

. . . telemarketing?”

She gave the cook a ticket,     

picked up a tray & headed

back to her tables.  Burgers

sizzled on the grill.

I thought about asking if

she’d like to go out later

for a few drinks or dancing

maybe—maybe, but

mainly I was trying not

to think about the sixty-

two-quart stock pot & steamer

that needed scoured,

or the heat in the kitchen,

its one overhead fan too 

high up to be of use.  I

didn’t want to think 

about anything really

but driving home after work, 

tailpipe dragging, & knowing

as my headlights flashed

across the grass, my neighbors,

sleeping when I left, would be

still sleeping when I returned.

Soon I would be too.

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