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Sometimes, Briefly.

 You called from jail
and with your new sense
of humor told me you were writing
an article about the food.
Months later, I received three letters
from your cell-mate,
one before, two after your death.
In each, he said you were a special dude
the way you listened,
it made him feel
human. It scared me
that he knew where I lived,
but he was never getting out;
I kept the letters,
sure they meant something,
that you had held on
to the gold watch, all that was left
of the fortune you had run through,
that is, that you kept the gift
of drawing out the dreams
of even the worst men:
murderers, rapists, this one,
who didn't mean
to kill the old woman
when he broke in to her house,
then something she said or did
reminded him of someone else,
who had dragged him out
from under the table
where he was hiding,
held him down and beat him
with a two-by-four until
the ceiling of his head opened,
and his soft bones were pinned
under the timbers
of what could have been a life.
The guard passing
on die midnight check
heard only a whimper,
but I think you, lying awake
on the hard cot, took it all in,
the beating on the bars,
the howls, the rage.
Anyway, when you left, you gave
him half your cigarettes,
and the gold watch; I guess
you finally found someone worse,
and worse off than yourself.
Plus, it wasn't worth much,
having stopped ticking
thirty years ago. Still,
if you held it to your ear,
and gave it a good
sharp shake,
sometimes, briefly, it would go.
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Article Details
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Author:Rowe, Kelly
Publication:Atlanta Review
Article Type:Poem
Date:Sep 22, 2019
Words:310
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