... to lose one’s life (You say) is to die by inches.
And here I am having sprung another leak,
soaking red the bed sheet torn into strips,
lured again by the barker’s pitch
and the bawdy wink, swept away
by the ignorant tides, the grinder’s wheel
and the smell of sweat. She’ll guess
my weight and age, the painted lady offers.
Why ... I’m a featherweight
and as old as the stars; circling
the tawdry midway, fooled again
by the bright lights, the weighted targets,
the crooked scales; by the rhinestones,
the smoke, the make-up and mirrors.
The admission is free into this carnie world
erected in the middle of a cow pasture
where two state highways cross
and disappear in opposite directions.
But, you have to pay to get out
and I can’t come up with the fee
having gambled away all my money
on teddy bears and gold fish and shiny blue ribbons.
O child of God, to lose one’s life is to die by inches
on the immeasurable path back to your original abode.