Saturday, January 07, 2012

william skink TRANSIENT

he wasn’t dead yet
but he would die just a few hours later
after I left
after I sat there looking him over
feet gnarled from old frostbite
swollen ankles, those hobbled legs
and skin like wax paper colored by the quitting
of his liver—

and he quit that broken body broken by booze
on the seventh day of October
just a few days after the cold rain had finally begun to fall

Harley said he was there when Joe collapsed
so he waved down a cop
who brought the ambulance to take him along river Clark Fork
away from the streets he slept on
to at least have the dignity of departure
washed and laid out on soft fabric and plush drugs

his sea of blood leading slowly to that stillness—

the dark October clouds outside the window—
Joe knew he was drinking down death
but he honored certain codes
and though proud of hustling, insisted no cussing
during business hours because (he told me once)
there might be kids around

the local paper would call him transient and
be done with him

this local poet says fuck that, his name was Cock-Eyed Joe
and I hope he finds peace beyond
because there is none here

--William Skink