It's just poetry, it won't bite

Jim Finerty Died

03.08.19 Posted in today's words by

J.B. Hogan’s most recent poem to appear here was “Unexpected” (October 2018).

Jim Finerty Died
By J.B. Hogan

I know because he told me so himself.
When did you die I asked?
I’m not sure, he said, maybe it was the first day
a young woman called me, sir, or
when I turned 50, or when I realized
I was an evolutionary dead end.
How so? I wondered.
No kids.
No kids?
Nope. The branch, the DNA,
it all ends with me, there’s
something wrong with me—
had to be cut off, eliminated.
You’re just having an existential crisis I told him.
I’m having an existential life he laughed.
How can you laugh if you’re dead?
How can I be me now and not be me when I die?
I mean, how can I know I’m here now and
I won’t know I was here then?
You’re not dead, I said.
Oh, I’m dead alright, he shook his head
up and down. I’m most definitely dead.
Dead from Day 1. Dead at Day last.
Well, you’re not dead yet, I insisted.
Oh, I am dead alright he repeated.
I’m most definitely dead.
Okay, I said, you’re dead.
See, he shook his head again,
even you can tell I’m dead.
If you’re dead, then how come
I haven’t gone to your funeral already?
Oh, you will, he assured me,
you most definitely will.
So, if I’m going to be there
what do you want put on your tombstone?
Jim Finerty, he said without pausing,
he was and he wasn’t here.
I started to say something, then stopped.
There was no need to argue with him—
he was right. He’d stopped living long ago.
When that girl called him, sir, or when
he turned 50, or someday in the future
when he was really gone and
someone might ask what happened
someone else would most certainly say:
Oh, didn’t you know?
Jim Finerty—yeah, it’s too bad,
he moved on some time ago,
he let it go way back,
he’s already dead.

One Response to “Jim Finerty Died”

  1. Ed Zahniser says:

    Ouch. Existentialism at it’s most insistent!

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