The last gasp

Then she grabbed my hand and said this:


I leaned in close. Her grip tightened with a strength that hadn’t been there in years.

“Listen,” she said. “Death’s door is small. It is so small that when we go through it sheers away everything we think of as real: our bodies, our minds, even our memories. What’s left is nothing but an echo. And then I’ll only exist in your mind, and only in the memories of everyone who knew me. I’ll be clothed in a thousand robes, disguised in a thousand masks of how each one of you saw me. Some will be beautiful and some will be terrible. Please see me with a smile on my face, because I’ll be there for the rest of your life, and God knows you’ll need a friend.”

Then she let go of my hand, but I was the one who closed my eyes.

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The road is full of dangerous curves, and the darker the night the more treacherous they are. It also has endless swoops and dips, and taken at high speed you alternate between weightless and heavy in the space of a second, but they lie: the road goes ever downhill. And I’ve buried way too many friends along the way.

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The Houses We Used to Live In


The houses we used to live in
stay in our heads
with attics and basements and dark poisonous closets
all added instead
of warm, cozy memories
and incandescent lightbulbs
the original floor plans, now wrapped in gauze
and the picture of Jesus by the shore
changes and changes and changes more
each time you look away
you don’t know the cause
you can’t stay
not today

The houses we used to live in
are draped in the dark
all hiding the holes and kicked-in walls
the smoke from the spark
other people came
and made their mark
intruders into memories, invaders of the space
safe in closets, in beds, and pressed into paint
the warm, loving face
now scraped and scarred
made ugly with the rape of time
smiles covered with a film of grime
and dead pets

The houses we used to live in
and streets we used to ride
the grass where we parked
worn down and flat, retreating inside
all echoes decayed, the sound delayed
the hands out wide, the pipes all dried
lifeblood and lifeless, smiles unmade
kicked up into dust
and only the bad memories reside
only ashes are found
you don’t use keys, come through the window instead
but at least the screams
are dead

408, 408, 408, 408
the canal has you now
you’re gone, you’re gone
from the lake to the ocean, and at last
my jaw relaxes
these scars
are my stars
and I can let you go
and go
it was so brief a violence
I can forgive
I can.

Rob Archer, February 20 and 21, 2016
Photo: “408 Front Bedroom” by Rob Archer, 2014


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I do not cry
but I do mourn
endlessly and

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The room empties

All my friends are gone.
Where did they go?

Time took them.
Time took them.
Time took them.

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When I leave the stage I’m okay with being done.
My tracks will be well-covered when I am gone.
When the last person dies who remembered me,
the wind will blow leaves and then I will be free.

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Schrodinger’s eyelids

Dreams pull the dead back to life
raised in memory at the height of fashion, revivified
at no expense, corrupted molecules incorruptibly cloaked
in life and color and not a hint of worms to be found

Corpses dance, all goodbyes forgotten and
farewells flown away, hearts once broken beat again
with orchestras straining chorus from chaos,
then fluttering in morning light the dead go gray again

Likewise dreams raise any palace or place
no matter how ground into dust they may be
in the waking world, stone from ash, blueprint to concrete
and back again, Schrodinger’s eyelids awake and asleep

Schrodinger’s eyelids awake and asleep
Schrodinger’s eyelids away in the deep

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