So now, as their numbers accrue,
the dead are ganging up on me,
shaking me awake at midnight,
stealing away that peace
I had so naively presumed
would be mine to savor at this later date
when I had thought the hours would
stretch out and relax.

But instead, the hours are these abrupt, rude lumps
that clumsily bump me through a quick day
and a longer night.

The dead sneak into the back seat of my car:
they critique my driving, guilt-trip me with their
frozen agendas, demanding I honor promises
I had made to myself on their behalf,
when it seemed for my own good.

They carry on and on back there.
While it irritates, I might suppose
it keeps me going?
keeps me from crashing?
The better to keep them
from joining me in front.

These dead seem a clubby bunch, no?
So absolute and proud,
yet coy and seductive
with their cunning secrets upon which I dwell
as I determine to obey this red light.

I nod off here while I wait,
stealing a little nap in this moment
when there are no choices to be made,
save to plunge right on
into the crushing flow of the living.


© Anthony Phillips