I didn’t die there in Vietnam amid the whistles
and shrieks, nor in loud Zaire, the tiny bullets
being swallowed by the blue-green beautiful river,
the water pulled by the hot wind into the hotter sky.
In Kampala, the man who pushed his pistol through the window
of my sky blue VW Bug thought better of it or hesitated
as I sped away through broken cement under the smiles
of beer drinkers leaning out of slashed billboards.
Those hooded figures in the night who rose from behind
the ridge and threw me face down in the sand, my death
felt pretty near then, the implement of its execution
pressed into the pale skin of my neck. What will fate
think of next? There are the more ordinary
escapes and bruisings — mishaps in automobiles and airplanes,
sickness, lost once in the mountains in the cold.
It is not so much that I wonder how I will die, or when,
or even if, perhaps, I’ve died already and, as they say,
this might be heaven or it might be hell. What I want
to know is, what I want to know is, just a minute, it’s
on the tip of my tongue, excuse me, wait, just a minute.