Smoke and Ashes |
by M. E. Lerman

“Will it hurt?” you ask me with a twinge of lemon.
An academic question:
It’s not happening to you.

You say a velvet prayer for me though you never say “death.”
Earthsmoke and rainforest wet like the steam rising from the coffeemaker.
The banality of ritual, the novelty of God.

You think of me like St. Sebastian, a cushion for poison arrows,
But I take my hemlock with two sugars for breakfast.
Time and I will go the same direction together until we don’t.

Out the window the crows shift leg to leg like teenagers texting before a concert.
Once my eyes were windows,
Now the windows are my eyes.

You started bench-pressing 170 so you could hold up the Earth someday,
Or catch it as it falls from the sky like a fly ball,
But even Hercules couldn’t be Atlas for long.

So you’ll run a marathon for me or sell cheesecake and wrapping paper,
Gather their signatures for a petition against death,
And maybe help someone who isn’t me scatter the crows.

The survival of a skystarry school of fish is a mystery, a sacrifice, a fact.
You will lead the future on horseback,
And I will wait for it to hurt.

Editor by day and writer by earlier in the day, M. E. Lerman has been published in Poetica Magazine, Poetry Quarterly, and Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, and his work has been featured in the British Fantasy Society Journal. Also a multi-instrumentalist and amateur recording artist under the name Mike L. Rock, he lives in Rockville, MD, with his partner, Donovan, and their cat, Sa$ha. His blog can be found at