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by Jack B. Bedell

You’d probably chuckle to know I pass

your grave every morning bringing my kids

to school. They’ve asked all the questions

their teachers have told them to ask,

and I’ve answered as best I could:

Did he want to die?

Probably, but not

that night, and not in his parents’ house.

How did it happen?

From the beginning?

Coltrane, Hendrix, the dude from Blind Melon.

They were all beautiful to him. Release.

A slowing of heart. Sleep. Stop.

What was it like?

He always said

it was like swimming in honey.

Why would he do something that made him

sick every time he did it?

The other side

of sickness or pain is heaven, and that

lasts much longer than it takes

to empty your stomach.

Do you miss him?

I miss the way his pick hand

moved so casually over the strings of his bass,

how perfectly his thumb glided

down the neck of his guitar. His

potato rolls, the glaze he made for pastries.

Why couldn’t you stop him?

I held him

like a brother, threw him against the wall

by his collar like a parent, set him free

to make his own choice like God does.

That river only flows downhill.

What do you remember most about the last time you saw him?

This one I always have trouble answering out loud,

how your stubble felt like needles on my cheek.


Jack B. Bedell is Professor of English and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Southeastern Louisiana University where he also edits Louisiana Literature and directs the Louisiana Literature Press. His latest collections are Elliptic (Yellow Flag Press, 2016), Revenant (Blue Horse Press, 2016), and Bone-Hollow, True: New & Selected Poems (Texas Review Press, 2013). He has recently been appointed by Governor John Bel Edwards to serve as Louisiana Poet Laureate 2017-2019.

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