John Thomas York

When I found his room his mouth was gaping mid-gasp
lungs finally defeated
toothless old man looking like a discarded
melon—somebody had cut a plug
found the taste bitter

when my sister and I went through the house
looking for phone numbers we also found stacks
of magazines tickets to the Sweepstakes offering
cash a cruise a new Cadillac a big-screen TV

he only read the local paper
the scandals felonies obits

family photographs and windows went dirty
and I could taste the cigarette
dangling from his mouth as he turned a page
as he punctuated a sentence grinding a butt

instead of listening to a homily and a prayer
we should've smoked at the graveside
everybody lighting up in the cemetery
taking twenty drags at once
blowing a cloud watching it drift over headstones
the road the late afternoon traffic

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