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  The Old Man

When I was seventeen, I watched the old man die.
I prayed, nightly, upstairs
on my knees, by my bed

while he lay downstairs, on the sofa
shriveling and writhing in agony.

I knelt by my bed
and cried
and said,
"Dear God, don't let him die."

Because when he dies my world will end.

and the days went painful slow
I missed his snoring in the bed
across from mine the way he did
when I was a child and had a light on to keep away the ghosts till he
came to bed and turned off my light and snored.

And one night, it was too much, and my tears were burning hot.

and I said
"Dear God, please end his pain."

And he died

And I was alone

They called me downstairs, and said,

"He's dead"

and I called the doctor and the minister and the funeral parlor
and the family
and watched my drunken mother and her husband
cry out their agony at his death

and felt the hand of guilt
Seize upon my heart

and I said

"God, I hate you!"

and went out alone to the rest of my life.

8/13/96 @charles Grifor





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