DONE TO DEATH by Mather Schneider

 

I’m watching a poetry program
on Youtube.

At a round wooden table
with their glasses of water
3 poets snicker
at the idea of death
because in poetry death
has been done to death,
frankly everyone is sick and tired of death
and it is time for a revolution

and at this moment I swear to God
I get an email
from an old friend who tells me
he wants to kill himself.

He’s told me this a few times.

How tiresomely the poets make
their suffering macramé,
how stern and serious their devout replies
to clown questions,
how they wave sanctimony and sass
like lassos
over the necks of plastic ponies.

The last time we emailed each other
he was sober,
getting married and having a kid.
I had just got out of prison
and he kept asking me questions about it,
kept telling me I should write about it.
We grew up together
and he remembers
the dumb stories I used to write
in study hall, those dreams
and long-gone days.

These poets
are brave souls,
they’ve been to Vienna,
they’ve been to Bangladesh
and Disneyland.
They fell in love with language
at an early age,
words are all
they ever needed.
Well, words
and round tables
and cameras and microphones
and reading gigs and applause and grants and sabbaticals
and hair dye and nose rings and nice houses
and health insurance and easy jobs
and the purest safety.

He doesn’t tell me any details
about why this is happening.
He wants me to write him back.

Next up is a woke gangstress
with tats and a full ride
to Berkeley.
She explains her pronouns and recites a medley
of middle-school quatrains
about how powerful love is
and how whites must die in the fires of hell.

She tells us, “Language can save you”
as if she’s ladling soup
in a Gulag.

I turn it off,

sit looking at his email.

I am sorry
but I don’t know what to say
to people who keep talking
about death,

it’s just so much more
bad poetry
and frankly everybody’s sick of it.

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