For my friend Tom (1990-2005)
For a teenager, home should be a palace
filled with light, cousins gaming, beer,
not a lab to languish in with ungodly pose.
Instead, portentous scribbles chart scar,
fracture, bone, glyph DNA, scoliosis,
inflammation. If he could clasp jewels,
hug his beloved. Suffer battle wounds
manning a chariot. This is not the after-
life promised—no walking canes relieve
his club foot, no second opinions offered
from underlings who weigh the heaviness
of a heart for rigors of eternal thrones.
Death is a distant wave—fields of grain,
divine boat rides, not an antiseptic tunnel,
a boy without the Book of Breathings.