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You wake up one gray day
to find him at the front door,
wearing yesterday's tweeds
with the frayed cuffs.
Red wine stains his crumpled tie,
and his beaten breathing is old wind.
Pennies in his pockets spatter to the stoop
like cheap rain. Aging now,
he spreads his brown smile like a smear
across the landscape.

You've dealt with drunks before,
have sent them staggering into the night
like misguided guides,
never to return from their journey
of self-discovery.
But none are like the sad professor
who's pissed on the chrysanthemums,
toppled fodderstalks and rattled
the last leaves from maples.

His kicked-in eyes are two headlights
dangling in dark woods
where something messy crawls.
Persephone has left him again,
nestled beneath her blanket of earth,
never to return,
and someone has to take the fall.

His mouth hardens into a crowbar smile
as he lays his head on the stoop
like a sunken pumpkin and crumbles
until he is somebody not there,
some body the light can't touch,
tucked under graves of leaves.
There is nothing you can do
to stop him from dying,
to turn the tide against his tilting world.
He is cold. And lonely. Don't let him in.
Autumn is such a great time to die.

      — Chris Wood