Self-Deliverance from Issue 85
May cause stomach irritation.
— side effect of a successful lethal overdose
of barbiturates from a manual on euthanasia
and so while you wait in the long queue
for the ferry across the Styx,
do you ask if anyone has Tums?
(As if we had to carry our bodies with us
like knapsacks, or the corpses the Romans
chained to the Christians.)
Or you could run the car in the closed garage,
which may take up to two hours,
and while away the lees of a lifetime
with the sad country twang of heartbreak
and heartburn, or the greats, Verdi’s
Requiem if you’re lucky, or if not,
a scan of the whole spectrum of all
you’re leaving—golden oldies, metal
heavy as a casket, rap, hip-hop, blues
as blue as Sexton’s face when the exhaust
had sucked the air from every cell.
Plath, with no self-help manual, swallowed
too many pills and only threw
them up and slept for three days
in the cellar. Sexton said suicides
were like carpenters,
who never asked why build
but only what tools to use.
Or the bridge leaps of Kees
Or the bloody way, the way
I slashed my wrists so deep,
the ER doctor only said,
He wasn’t kidding.
The loneliness of love, of course,
as so often it is,
the one you found, then lost,
or never did.
And then there are the ill
who think nothing’s worth
And we, the failed ones who flail on,
delaying from moment to moment
the inevitable, undignified descent,
bow our heads in shame at what
we have lived to gain, even
the precious pain of body
and soul, which they,
in the thirteenth circle,
now cry for.