This friend who never dies
leaves his place at Hollywood Cemetery,
catches the four a.m. bus to your bedside
and urges you to come with him
to the creek where you caught sixteen bass
one year
on July third.
You promise him
you will if you
can sleep a little longer.
He decided
to live just so he could see the shimmering fish fly from
the shallow water like silver footballs. He pulls at the
covers until you feel the cool spring morning
slither up your legs to your troubled middle. Admit it,
you deny him,
but you don’t have the heart to explain how you saw him
all those years back
stuffed in a white coffin and a suit that had not fit him
since high school, how you and his other buddies went every
day to court in Charlotte to see what happened to the biker
scum who shot him
in the back of the head because of what was on the jukebox.

You tell him what happened. He says
that’s just revenge. He wants to know about your car and how 
much beer costs. Know any girls 
who might go with you 
and how hard is it now to 
find good, strong, cheap reefer. It’s hard to 
tell him that 
you have not smoked in over ten years. 

You’re cautious now about women. You don’t just 
have sex with them. The loneliness sometimes feels 
better than 
waking up with someone 
you cannot look at. 

And life. And tell him you remember now 
the sixteen bass, 
how they shot from the water that was clear and cooler than 
the air in any beer joint, but go on, 
there’s a bridge there now 
for the bypass. 

is like that. 
You drank your last beer, 
smoked your last joint, 
screwed your last hole, 
played your last jukebox. 
You sit up and ask him what’s the difference 
but he’s gone.