Four Days Before the End of the World
In memory of Jake Adam York (1970-2012)
What did the Mayans know about the death
of poets? Not much, I’d argue—
watching the sky, they appeased
old gods with the death of others,
pitched screaming men & women
down burning canyons,
all in the name of silent gods.
Now, rain breaks three days
of late humidity. Apocalyptic,
these temperatures. Air conditioner
humming a week before Christmas.
My wife says it’s always been
this way: The weather in the south
is crazy she says. & maybe
(I think) she’s right:
the end has been happening all along.
I once dreaded the end.
A back-row Baptist teenager,
I dreamed of the earth in shards,
the oceans evaporated, an angry God’s fist
shaking the ground. Lava spurts
into the air like a carotid split.
A friend died yesterday & I
though of my father’s funeral,
how the preacher’s words hung
in the air like dust motes.
I never found the right words
& couldn’t croak out the hymns.
Twenty years ago, I stood a child
in a South Georgia graveyard
& wondered how I’d face
the Rapture without my father there.
Surely, I knew I’d be left behind.
The world didn’t end, though I planned
for it, though I tried to drown
in alcohol & pills, though I spit
hate at the sky.
Dared God to face me. Come on down
& explain himself to me.
I threw myself at the ground.
Tried to silence God’s night sweats.
My words hung in the air
like bourbon blues
the first dawn promise
after a three-day drunk:
The world is set to end.
Maybe the end will be bang.
Maybe a whimper.
Or maybe it’s something like this:
I stare out at the remnants
of a storm. Sun glows
I speak & my words
cloud the glass.