A broken ear, matted greying fur, a scrapper of a dog flinches
a crouching jump — startling to look at me. Almost growling,
a tentative curl to his upper lip, his jaw tosses and chomps
on a morsel of detritus from beside the dumpster
in the Motel 6 parking lot. With starving purpose, he sniffs
and claws to hold and lick the inside surface of a grease-soaked
paper bag. I notice the panting breath of his ribcage,
gaunt and skeletal, beneath his thinning coat. The elegant tendons
of his back legs are poised, trembling, as he finishes, licks his chops,
and scrutinizes me again.

How long has it been? Will someone pick him up — or off?
From wild eyes, he concludes his last, long look at me, and turns
to lope away with a crooked, limping gait.
And in some distant recess of my inner ear I hear a whisper,
keep going, keep moving, don’t stop.

  1. there but for hear paula read: there but for 1:20


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Now that I am gone, I want you to know that I worked everyday to make myself as happy as I could be.  I pursued my interests.  I was curious.  I read about things.  I turned some of my natural inclinations into my livelihood and it wasn’t the worst job I could have had.  That’s something.

I want you to know that I’m proud of my family.  I’m proud of the family I came from and I’m proud of the family I have created.  I know that I contributed something simply by being there and maybe that’s the greatest contribution anyone can make — to be there.

I wish I’d had the courage to take a few more risks.  Wish I could have loved myself enough to “toot my own horn” a little bit more.  Wish I could have been brave enough to stand up to certain people who seemed clueless or strangely so selfish that they could hardly see anyone around them.  Those nights when I lay in bed worrying about how things were going to turn out, I wish I could have just trusted myself more.  Wish I could have trusted the universe more.

All in all, I’d say I was good person.  I always took a moment, if I had a moment, to check in with myself to see what my instincts were telling me about what was the right thing to say or do.  When I didn’t have a moment, I went with my gut.  Most of the time, my gut was right.  I knew always to think of the other person and to act with empathy.  I’m not sure how I knew that.

So, I guess I’m gone now.  My time on Earth is over.  I feel so lucky that I got to be here — even though it seems it could never be for too long.  I wish I could see the way the world is going to change and evolve.  I wish I could see more of what is to come — but that won’t be of my time.  I’ve gotten to live for my own unique span of history and that will have to be enough.  I’m thankful that I was also blessed with such pragmatism.

At the risk of being obvious, all of you know that I loved you.  I guess I didn’t say it very often — but you know I did.

I’ll miss you.

All my love,

________________  [print name]

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  1. Dear Everybody hear paula read: Dear Everybody 2:19


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the sun streamed in like a white blanket of light
and you said — “how do we possibly do all the stuff we do
when we end up feeling so worn and torn?”

and the particles of dust floated in the air
like slow-moving meteors and tiny feathers suspended
but still moving
and I watched your breath propel them as you said
“it feels like the summer is over even though it’s just beginning.”

and we pondered how many dinosaur wings we’ve flown upon
not like magical dragons — but like the muck of oil that
they’ve turned into
and about how selfish we are — always wanting more.

none of it added up to much
no conclusion
no — ah-ha — no grand truth.
just the sun streaming in and then a simple question,
“what do you want to do now?”

  1. Dinosaur Wings hear paula read: Dinosaur Wings 1:00


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