archives, fiction, poetry

An Epitaph. {poetry}

 

{source}

{source}

A friend of mine died the other day,

but not really — I mean it wasn’t really

the other day. It just seems that way sometimes.

Sometimes the thirteen years seem a day

and I hold him in my arms again and watch

the warmth and gentleness and intelligence

fade slowly from his eyes while I tell him

everything will be okay, everything will be okay.

I was a writer even then, but none of the words I knew

could stop his blood from seeping through my shirt

to turn its olive drab a darker hue than red

or green — none of the important or subtle

or achingly beautiful words could grant another breath

or give me time to say the things I should have

or would have, but didn’t.

There was an accident the other day.

A car had left the road and a passenger was trapped,

held, the driver pleading in a soft, frightened voice:

everything will be okay, won’t it? — everything

will be okay?

Oh, the words, the words,

the achingly inadequate beautiful words.

*****

TerryHertzlerTerry Hertzler has worked as a writer and editor for more than 35 years. In addition, he has taught writing at the university level as well as for The Writing Center and the Southern California Writers’ Conference. His poetry and short stories have appeared in a variety of publications, including North American Review, The Iowa Review, The Writer, Margie, Nimrod, Serving House: a Journal of Literary Arts, Literal Latte and the Los Angeles Times, as well as being produced on stage and for radio and television. His publications include The Way of the Snake, a book of poetry on the war in Vietnam, Second Skin, a collection of poetry and short fiction, and several chapbooks. His work has been nominated twice for The Pushcart Prize. Hertzler served with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam, 1969-70.

 

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