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Ten Etched Words

Stop saying I have my whole life

ahead of me. My future is in the bones

of the past. In Salinger’s seclusion.

Fitzgerald’s damaged wings.

Kafka’s final request.

Cobain’s April 8th.

It used to scare me, but now I fear nothing

except the cemetery on North Street,

where an endless stream of traffic

douses tombstones in mud so thick,

it enshrouds a lifetime. There are no flowers,

only knee-high wild rye in the empty plot.

I’ll spend an eternity in that spot, waiting,

with the nameless many, for a moment

of immortality– a hand to wipe time

from my legacy, return my name, and reveal

the only thing I knew with certainty:

Show me a hero, and I’ll write you a tragedy.

[Note: This piece first appeared in Volume 55, Issue 2 of Wisconsin Review]

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