my father’s death wish)
smoke blown into the thinness
of my face
measured now his willingness to try—
how, when, why not understand the child—
or to converse on such life-death matters,
for who knows better for whom,
yet angers with daunting effect at logic.
his eyes cleared like an old cash register—
Hope’s failed diaspora.
Reason in drought, then
in storm-wrecked harvest,
the heart-sowing Huger
read blood’s barometric pressure:
Fair to un-fair,
Change to Un-changed,
Dry to Very Dry,
except for me, in bedroom
who had crawled inside the ear of my youth
in your voice,
and fell out an old man
in your son’s tears.
In the Waiting Room
I sit watching the Health channel—
And I think I’ve got it all.
I am there, young and quiet, in the office,
Fear-dilated and money-muted.
The magazines and shows and phone calls,
All desperate voices scratching at a fix—
The new drug aimed
At the old body, now loosing its venoms.
And here come the headlines like horses:
Shit-killing-war-mongers make death,
Factories birth brands
In record number, drug companies fist
Billions in first quarter—while the lobby
Art screams its diluted shapes.
And I wait through it all. I wait
With the women on TV in t-shirts
Still white under the arms. I wait
As blood gets drawn in the other room,
The other country,
And leaves my face. I wait.
My heart wants to rest; my mind wants
To crash out the glass with that silver
Hammer and pull the alarm.
I am giving them my body, in return
It goes to collections. I become part
Of the enormous shine. Life dulls
With these small brown chairs,
A cough of silence, this TV Guide,
The high-pitched receptionist—
I know they’ll scare me out of here.
The place is closing.
The lights go off.
I haven’t been seen yet.
Then, someone calls my name in the dark,
And like a fool, I go to it.
If the Mayans are right
I’ve got 22 hours 57 minutes and 3 seconds left.
Needless to say, there are books
I haven’t read and I’ve never been here
and I’ve never been there. I head home
after watching my sister’s kids.
I park the car by the train tracks, shut it down,
and start walking to the apartment. The homeless
men mill about on the next corner
and I wonder if they’d be happy
knowing how little time is left. How soon
they could float their lifetimes of worry
and burden down a river of nothingness
into forever. Their hard screams of abandon let go
like balloons in a soft, clear sky.
I almost wish it would happen.
I think of telling them as I walk by, but wonder how
it will sound coming from someone with so many keys.
And those 23 hours will be the same
to them either way. Every day is a last one,
and if it’s not tomorrow,
that’s okay too.
About the Writer
Cameron McGill is a Chicago-based singer and songwriter. He recently released his sixth studio album, Gallows Etiquette, on October 15th. His poetry has appeared in Measure. He is currently at work on a collection of poems, three of which will be featured in the forthcoming Issue #80 of Poetry East. Find him at: