Frank Matagrano


I am reading about other ways
to die.  A lucky few just never
wake up: the dream goes
on that way, whether it be
the one with a pig who spoke
with a vengeance once
the apple was pulled
from his mouth -- he had
a thing or two to say
about justice -- or the one
with the wolf and the grand-
mother he ate, both sitting
on a park bench, discussing
the pros and cons of the path,
or the dream where you finally get
back all the lunch money stolen
from you during recess in a show
of force.  There's an interpretation
of Sharia law that allows the guilty
to live if the victim's kin is willing
to forgive -- one murderer cheated
his way out of the gallows, suffering
a heart attack once the noose neared
his neck, the execution called
off until his full recovery.  He had time
to find an easier out; the options were
endless.  A hospital in France manages
to lose -- no different than misplacing
a set of keys -- six or seven patients
every year.  A dead man was found
in the basement wearing a pair
of pajamas; no one knew how
the body got there, whether it was
a tramp who snuck in to escape
the cold, or a patient who absconded
from his room -- now that's a theory
worth embellishing: a man with little
time making a conscious effort to leave
this life in quiet dignity, picking
which memories to bring
once the eyes close, deliberate
breaths, inhaling through
the nose, doing the math, adding up
the little things, everything -- the number
of birthday cards on the counter he forgot
to send, all the headlines he passed over
to do the crossword puzzle, the dishes left
in the sink for his wife to clean, what few
things he learned after fifty or so years, however
long the man lived -- reaching the sum
of his working parts: an open hand, a bent leg,
his beating heart, his quivering mouth.

Location: Chicago, Illinois
Publications: ACM (Another Chicago Magazine), Northwest Review, Exquisite Corpse, CrossConnect, Stirring, etc.
Books: Moving Platform; How to Breathe in Case the Plane Goes Down

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