a bum’s demise*
– papa osmubal
He is dead: his liver turned
Hard and bone-dry like a stone.
He left in mysterious and unexpected
fashion, leaving us all asking
And wondering as though his demise
was a riddle that needed answering.
The night before we were all late
for the usual overnight binge.
After weeks in a public infirmary, he showed up
much earlier than us all, reading Verlaine, reading
Poetry in his favourite corner, silently filling
his lungs with Havana cigar smoke.
This man, one can say, did not know how
to live, but he sure was darn good at dying.
“Don’t give me girls tonight,” he blurted.
“I don’t want to be a father again!”
He poured his glass with a generous whiskey,
slammed a box of cigar on the table.
“Man lives once, and dies once,” he said,
guffawing like he was mocking us all.
As usual it was almost sunup when the gang
felt they had had more than enough.
He did not go the usual way, he went
towards where the sun was rising.
* This poem first appeared in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal in February 2010.