September, 2014

They say the best funerals
are the ones you walk away from.
I used to believe that,
now I’m not so sure.
Now I think it depends
on who’s going down.
Because one by one
the ones you count on
leave you walking cold ground.
The ones who make the records you love,
the ones who lend you money,
the ones who talk you down,
drive you to the airport,
let you sleep on their couch.

No one wanted to tell me
the news, the doctor’s report
was not good. From 3000 miles away
I felt it but I couldn’t do anything about it.
So I walked with Zipper,
my Queensland heeler,
up toward the mountains,
letting tears dry
on my face. Zipper
knew something was wrong
but played and ran
just like always.
She’d come check on me
look into my eyes
then go roll in the grass.
I’ve got a lot to learn from her.
Then I started running too
running and screaming my friend’s name.
My friend was going to die.
The doctor said so.

I walked up into the upper desert
which always turned
an indifferent shoulder to me.
Still I went there
and there was nothing but wind
and sand
and yucca trees
stretching toward something
they’d never reach.

When shadows closed in
Zipper stayed close.
There were coyotes and rattlers.
I was going crazy
cause I could hear shit
that wasn’t there.
I went into a little town
and rented a room with a view
of the freeway
watched them head to Vegas
to lose their cash
and their mind.
I didn’t have to go to Vegas
to lose my mind
I watched the traffic
while 3000 miles away
the cancer did its deed.

I watched the traffic and remembered our last ride.
Driving down 2nd Avenue
in Gary’s Bel Aire convertible
with Al Green on the box,
“Take Me To The River” up loud,
real loud. He always had the top down
and the music up.
We got a good look
at the city that raised us both.
There were no tears
at Newark International.
We just hugged goodbye
like always.
From inside the terminal
I watched him pull away,
top down, shades on,
purpose beneath those lenses.

Derek Jeter
is on the cover
of the New Yorker this week.
Jeter in his pinstripes
on his farewell tour
around the league.
Gary would have been there
for that final game
in Yankee Stadium
with tears in his eyes.

I rolled my bag though Security,
always happy to head West.
I had a beer and boarded.
I like to fly alone. Alone with a good book
and a window seat view
of this great country below.
You never know
you’re taking your last ride.

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