Poems, A Parting

By Doug Bolling 

If we come drunk to the funeral
who is to blame.
Goodbye is no time for sobriety
with its squint eye and formal clothes
that never quite fit,
that ride up and down the bones
sending shivers of rage
through the laboring spine.

We learned never to read Michael’s
poems with a strict face and
expectations of a closure
that always lied.

Those times he led us to the
beaten rocks by the lip
of the sea where the great lion
shakes its paws
at all things still,
even the mountains
in the mauve distance.

He would stand in the surf
sending his metaphors
over the seething water
the sky and into our

If we weren’t quick enough
he would sail a poem
into the sea after
reading it.

Poems are ephemeral,
of the moment
he would say. Like the clouds
in their prayers, their strange
superfluity, their constant
dying in their own
indifferent laughter.

Everything comes and goes
he always argued.
Even the king, the worm
in his guts already writing
his death on the hidden walls.

Even we who stand here
trying to shape the past
as it coils about us pretending
a more rather than
a less, some future
we can believe.

Even death only a shadow
on the wall, only the
occasion of swallowing
oblivion in the
final toast.


Doug Bolling’s poetry has appeared in Water-Stone Review, Basalt, Illuminations, Flare, Redactions, Slant, BlazeVOX and Kestrel among many others. He has received five Pushcart nominations and has an MA and PhD from Iowa. He is at work on a collection of poetry and currently resides in the greater Chicago area.