06 June 2020



for Barry

I was thirty-five when Mom died
at sixty-six. Forty-one when Owen
died at forty-six. A tiny lull, then
(still) forty-one when Dad died
at seventy-six. Now I am sixty,
Barry, & you are gone
at sixty-nine. For nineteen years
it was just you & me. We talked
on the phone, let’s say, once a week.
Nine hundred & eighty-eight times.
Except that year when we didn’t talk.
Nine hundred & thirty-six times.
If we saw each other once a month,
except for that year after
we fought, that’s two hundred
& sixteen times we saw each other
when it was just us. The final wisp
of smoke from your last cigarette
may still be discernable among the clouds:
the precise composition of smoke 
really depends on the nature of the fuel,
the temperature of the flame,
& wherever the hell the wind is going
& whether it’s in a hurry. Math
& science are notable ways
to not think about things
that are not math & science.

Stuart Ross
6 June 2020


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