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EXIT LINES


Unless I check out, in, you know, a fight -
Some bloody-knuckled bar brawl or a duel
Loud with gunpowder or the clang of blades -
Unless I'm fool enough to die like that,
Please keep the word "fight" and its synonyms
Away from my obit. I understand

That "after a long battle . . . ." means to say
"No meek pushover for mortality,"
As if the final out were deep disgrace
And each contender needed credit for
Some in-your-face display of scrappiness
Against the coldest closer in the league.

But all the world is not a stadium,
Is not a battlefield. The drama starts
With blood and howls, yet birth is not a war
Against the mother's flesh; the song does not
Do combat with the air it agitates;
The dancer makes a pact with gravity,

Collaborates with, does not strive against.
Let me adhere to that ensemble faith.
Whatever shock or easy nudge propels
Me from the stage, let my last notice say
How zestfully I played the denouement
Despite my co-star's power to steal the show.

 

 

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