Apocalypse Soliloquy

- 1952-
I hope my death is not stolen from me
by a fiery blast of Fahrenheit or Celsius      
or another calculatable accuracy.                       

I will gladly relinquish all the pleasures of daily 
bread, the pride and dreams of art—even pulse;
but I hope my death will not be taken from me.

Actually, it is a modest policy;
little there to discuss as to solace
or in the way of privacy.

A valued moment of self-possession? Might it be
something to embrace more than to expulse?
I hope my death will not be pried from me.

My end is not to be just a cause in a public sea 
of scientists teaming against a disease,
a private point in a welter of piracy.

After all, won't it fundamentally and rightly 
be mine and no one else's? I hope my death is 
not taken from me; better, it be 
an appointment kept in a private sea.

More by Scott Hightower

My Father

was a cowboy.
My father was a sugar man.
My father was a teamster.
 
My father was a Siberian 
tiger; a corsair; a lamb, 
a yellow dog, a horse's ass.
 
My father had a triple bi-pass.
My father was a rat 
but he bought me my first hat. 
 
My father believed in decency 
and fair play. My father drove 
the getaway. My father was a blue jay.
 
My father drove the boys away.
My father drove a Thunderbird, 
a Skylark, a Firebird, an old pickup truck 
 
with a rusty tool box, a Skybird, 
a Sunray. My father drove hard bargains 
ever day; he was a force. My father 
 
was mercurial. He was passive, 
a little moody: rock... paper... scissors. 
He loved me. He loved me not.
 
He stomps and hurls lightning bolts. 
Has slipped away. Passed away. 
My father was passé. My father 
 
was a Texas Ranger. Taught me 
to pray. Because of him, I hoard things 
in an old shoe box. Because of him, I use 
 
botox. Because of him, I look to clocks. 
Because of my father, I know how 
to oil the gate; don’t own a map. 
 
Because of my father, I have no use for 
similes. Because of my father, I hunger 
for my own catalog of metaphors.
 


(for Doris Schnabel)

Rubber Dollie

The only permanent thing is the soul,
and what has happened to it.

                               —Patrick Kavanagh

Like a dancer covered in nothing
but white powder, then sponged

with coarse brown makeup;
nothing else in plain sight

but silver anklets; arms
extended to take

the tribute of a guard's embrace.
We are watching from behind;

though, there are no flowers,
no curtain. And it's not a ballet.

It's a macabre charade,
one night in the secret

theater of Abu Ghraib.
The anklets are shackles.

In another, a leashed
dog-loud, black,

and snarling—takes
center stage. And, in others,

real men, looking like oddly
manipulated Kachina dolls

or naked degraded marionettes
in medieval hoods—

their elbows akimbo—
are paraded, strung erect,

wired, collapsed;
are stacked into a pile.

"Save us
from noisy oblivion;

from despair. Save us,
one by one,

from Roman cruelty;
from death

by water;
from death

by fire. Save us
from being eaten alive."

Related Poems

Apocalypse

Of all sixty of us I am the only one who went 
to the four corners though I don't say it
out of pride but more like a type of regret,
and I did it because there was no one I truly believed 
in though once when I climbed the hill in Skye
and arrived at the rough tables I saw the only other
elder who was a vegetarian--in Scotland--
and visited Orwell and rode a small motorcycle
to get from place to place; and I immediately
stopped eating fish and meat and lived on soups;
and we wrote each other in the middle and late fifties
though one day I got a letter from his daughter
that he had died in an accident; he was
I'm sure of it, an angel who flew in midair
with one eternal gospel to proclaim
to those inhabiting the earth and every nation;
and now that I go through my papers every day
I search and search for his letters but to my shame 
I have even forgotten his name, that messenger
who came to me with tablespoons of blue lentils.