by Tim Stafford

that last breath preceding death,
that last breath preceding death,
as seven sisters neatly kept
the hollowed skull in which i slept.
i cast no shadow at the feet of giants.
i am a deciduous tooth,
clearing a path for the coming bone.
i am not prepared to die,
as i am only just now learning to live.
like husk and claw
buried beneath brittle leaves.
i am merely in a season of abscission,
a subtle serpent shedding skin,
a sensuous, sacchariferous sacrament,
swallowed whole, 
sinking in the sludge and the silt
within the belly of a whale,
where the succubus and the seraphim 
both delight in the scent 
of saint christopher's sandalwood.
serenity, my brethren.
here today, gone tomorrow.
that last breath preceding death,
not right from wrong, but right from left,
bereft of love pooled in the cleft,
that last breath preceding death.
two coins for the ferryman, please.
place one upon my tongue, 
that i might spit it out and sail beyond.
place the other in my pocket.
perhaps i can buy a round trip.
i worked long and hard to earn that fare.
its hot downstairs and cold up top, 
i’d like to take a nap beneath this sycamore.
there is a slight breeze i might get lost in,
as an idle adventurer 
headfirst into the unknown,
daring the authors pen,
pages turn into breaking waves,
each one speaks of another coming,
until the sea is barren, 
the land cracked and dried,
looking for one last drink,
a grail to soothe these parched lips.
the only water now is the ferryman’s road,
which belongs to Hades
and he’s a real sonuvabitch. 
in the shadows where the dead man slept
beside the tomb where Jesus wept,
that last breath preceding death,
that last breath preceding death.