by David James

“Children’s belief in immortality is universal.”
		from “Findings,” Harper’s, April 2014

Hell, we all think
we’ll live forever, even that old guy in hospice,
confessing to the nurses that it’s all an elaborate hoax,
that one day soon, he’ll stand up and dance his way
out the front doors, flashing his middle finger
at death.  Dying is an accident, something done
by people who aren’t careful,
people who are stupid and drive their cars into trees,
people who are in the wrong places
at the wrong times.
Most of my life so far, I’ve been in the right place
at the right time, and that’s how I plan to keep it.
No hospitals, no hospices. Ten and two on the steering wheel,
a decent distance between me and the car in front.
No heroin or cocaine, no crystal meth.  A baby’s aspirin
every day, vitamin C every other.  
No combat or war zones, no swimming with the sharks,
no tightrope on the 18th floor after drinking, no prostitutes
on Gratiot Avenue, no karaoke with gang-bangers,
no Russian roulette, dynamite, nuclear fission,
no Rottweilers, no knife-throwing friends.
I’m just a big old kid and immortality’s my middle name.
If I do die, by mistake, my belief in God and the afterlife
will hold me up, propel me into forever land where I can lounge
on a cloud, throw lightning bolts, fly through the heavens,
float down to earth and make wishes come true for those
who can’t see me but still believe. 
And if that doesn’t happen, if this is an elaborate hoax,
then when I die, if I die,
I’m going to be one pissed-off dude.

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