Tim Johnson, you are dead
though we spent Christmas together
many years ago.
You bought me an extravagant Swiss
coffeemaker that was much too much
for where we were in our never-to-be.
I never used it, gleaming thing that burps
and groans discharging its silvery steam,
until now—I’d grown used to my ancient
machine whose cracked caraf I replaced
with a burly apple-sauce jar. I’m frugal,
and liked my fingertips burnt each morning,
but you noticed this private act and made
your mind up to end it. Tim, you are dead.
No alarm will get you up. I’m left to sort out
what this means, especially since you
annoyed me, which is why we never did
You were always on the edge of becoming
the next big thing except I knew you
wouldn’t be—you did more talking
about becoming than becoming. Still
that’s no reason why you should be gone.
Had you heeded your body. Had the sugar
in your blood broken down as it should
have; been sucked fiercely into your cells.
Had you seen your hunger and thirst
as more than hunger and thirst—not been
the black man alone when your heart
failed you; alone on a gurney in the worst
emergency room of the worst hospital
of one of the biggest cities in the world.
You are gone Tim Johnson,
and I hardly knew you, and what I did
know of you did you no good.