I still get letters in the mail, mostly from cracked-up / men in tiny rooms with factory jobs or no jobs who are / living with whores or no woman at all, no hope, just booze and madness. / Most of their letters are on lined paper / written with an unsharpened pencil / or in ink / in tiny handwriting that slants to the / left / and the paper is often torn / usually halfway up the middle / and they say they like my stuff, / I’ve written from where it’s at, and / they recognize that. truly, I’ve given them a second / chance, some recognition of where they’re at. / it’s true, I was there, worse off than most / of them. / but I wonder if they realize where their letters / arrive? / well, they are dropped into a box / behind a six- foot hedge with a long driveway leading / to a two car garage, rose garden, fruit trees, / animals, a beautiful woman, mortgage about half / paid after a year, a new car, / fireplace and a green rug two- inches thick / with a young boy to write my stuff now, / I keep him in a ten- foot cage with a / typewriter, feed him whiskey and raw whores, / belt him pretty good three or four times / a week. / I’m 59 years old now and the critics say / my stuff is getting better than ever.
slipping keenly into bright ashes, / target of vanilla tears / your sure body lit candles for men / on dark nights, / and now your night is darker / than the candle’s reach / and we will forget you, somewhat, / and it is not kind / but real bodies are nearer / and as the worms pant for your bones, / I would so like to tell you that this happens to bears and elephants / to tyrants and heroes and ants / and frogs, / still, you brought us something, / some type of small victory, and for this I say: good / and let us grieve no more; / like a flower dried and thrown away, / we forget, we remember, / we wait. child, child, child, / I raise my drink a full minute / and smile.