by John F. Buckley

I’ll keep the belly fat making me pant as I tie
my shoes. You can have taking the elevator.
I’ll keep the failure to floss. You can have opening
beer bottles with your teeth. I wish my canines
were still pointy. I’ll keep abdominal rumbles,
gut bloat, gassiness. I was a colicky baby, still might be.
You can have eating too fast and chewing too little.
I’ll keep the rampant insomnia and three A.M.
coffee cups. You keep the snoring and getting
punted from bedrooms. I’ll keep the wooden antenna,
the worry my tone deafness has a pathology.
You can have cringing at past verbal napalm,
the sticky corrosion of words sprayed without aim.
I’ll keep the diagnosis and meds. You can have
cocktails of hotwire fantasies and short-circuit
ennui: fucking sharpen your head to a point
on the sidewalk no meaning I’m sorry shatter
thermometer shoved up do it doesn’t matter cold
sopping gray flannel power-line hum and the mental
Chihuahua yaps apathy apathy apathy apathy.
I’ll keep the Nineties spent surfing on sofas.
You can have envy of unsquandered youth. I’ll keep
the parent-sized holes in the address book. You can
have only recalling the fighting and tension. I’ll keep
the compulsive bad trips, the rabbit-hole infernos.
You can have cocaine and every third bong hit.
I’ll keep the poetry, all of the unread poetry,
the goddamned poetry, all the books by the people
everyone else can recite and recall. You can have
network TV and the works of James Franco.
And there we’ll stand, back to back, double kings
of a life bordered in sand, ruling our piles as one,
forty years and change, eyes fixed on two points
just slightly behind and beyond.


John F. Buckley lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with his wife. His publications include various poems, two chapbooks, the collection Sky Sandwiches, and with Martin Ott, Poets’ Guide to America and Yankee Broadcast Network. His website is

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