Howard Firkin
i.m. Vicki Bartlett
Lost and confounded; behind the ifs and buts,
the oldest thug: mortality; its flecks
of spittle on my face; knee in my nuts;
the simple ache beneath our every complex—
the key you feel unwinding in your back.
We gather here to celebrate and mourn
someone who never had a snowflake’s chance.
Like all of us, she happened to be born,
was pitched into this spastic, clockwork dance,
and fought to keep her feet through every track.

Don’t make me sing a hymn. Don’t make me pray
and look for God among the black shoe laces.
When no one here has any more to say,
I’ll go. Don’t let me see her children’s faces.