Empty Bucket List
I heard a voice I never saw.
“You’ve only got six months to go, so live.”
While walking on a trash-strewn beach,
regretting those squandered years,
I built an urgent mental spreadsheet.
I liquidated all my wealth, applied
for twenty-seven credit cards, began
to eat dessert for breakfast. Smoked
a ton of dope, stole a car; tried like hell
to keep myself from jail, which worked
except that weekend in Key West.
One hundred eighty times I watched the sun
go down and up. I thought enlightenment
might come; but no, it’s just the sun.
I climbed a mountain. Stupid clouds
obscured my view of beauty someone
told me I might find. I sought a man
I’d wronged and wronged him more.
I meant to say goodbye to those I loved;
but time drug on—I shrugged—tore up my list.
And then, I hate to say, I didn’t die.
Observing From Another Place
Circular plastic pressed against lips,
he reaches for his iPhone
on the stand beside the plump chair
that leans back when the right button gets pushed—
recliner, right, duh. Breathe in. Blink.
Concentrate. For no more than four seconds
a rounded edge becomes odd.
am I holding this thing,
and to what purpose? Cup floods back to him,
those millions of lifetime sips from vessels.
they’re made for that.
Left Hand’s More Limber, Neither Feels Right
It’s something weird, but not precisely pain,
this glitch with my fingers I first noticed,
well, could be six months back, or a few weeks,
a sort of semi-clickable pre-cramp.
It isn’t normal or desired, and I hate it,
but at least it’s novel. It’s tedium
when people of a certain age complain
about emerging patterns of decay,
or so the younger man I was believed,
and maybe he was right. Still, left alone,
or closely monitored, our bodies fall
apart. Not one escapes. Don’t ask me why
I catalog new groans from this machine,
I can’t explain what this might even mean.
All possibilities always exist.
Might this be raised to a supporting beam?
Certainly. Yes, but let’s try something else:
teeter-totter board lowered to the ground,
and balance is accomplished, permanent
as anyone could wish.
A bonus virtue, as if it needed
saying. The need for saying things? Reduced
to trickles down the inside of a leg,
a barely apparent temporal wet
requiring minimal interaction
with natural processes, all failing:
each failing in their only direction,
weight transferred evenly to browning grass.
Almost Like Being
It becomes the ocean we float in,
having forgotten ten thousand times
we’ve noticed this before, kittens
nuzzling for milk, then falling asleep,
our immature eyesight protected
from learning too quickly. A toddler
tugs, with dangerous strength, at the gate
that delays his tumble down the stairs.
Following a career as a U.S. Army musician, Gordon Kippola earned an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Tampa, and calls Bremerton, Washington home. His poetry has appeared in Rattle, Post Road Magazine, District Lit, The Main Street Rag, Southeast Missouri State University Press, and other splendid publications. Consistently poor at living anywhere near the present moment, he writes to puzzle out what might have happened, and/or if anything he remembers approaches reality.