Simon Jenner

Cavafy’s Headstone

I’ve been sprinkled with death before,
a light covering, a spray of coffee beans
over me, my friends’ pre-emptive café talk
to strike my doubts and doubters dumb.

It tasted more of ground obituaries, as
myrrh might in coffee, and it slaked me, as
coffee never does. This anointing was better
than any modern headstone, which lack future

or feature, whose incisions crumble to hunches
more than the sand, or tiny porphyry chisellings.
It’s such a grain of talk at such tables speaks me
cleared away, by the white surpliced waiter.

Obituary Writer

The fifth age brings obituaries.
You conjure its additive rhythm, scrawl
some bladed fancy of one, read some for an iron lunch.

Then your ancient phones, too close, he says, to the friend
whose forty years on yours, makes a hinge into the dark
of your ancient, merely twenty up, or a drop shelf to the word.

So he directs the quality to you, the editor.
Young, she’s your companion now, to walk you
so many deaths you write on brandy tinted evenings.

This is the life in eight hundred, you gnarl,
geared to her malachite stone commissions.
You start at so many boring old friends

she thought you knew, and you will, so
compact they are in your fingers, as she is in your arms
who steps you this way death; you’ve arrived.

Simon Jenner © 2009