George Held


“I knew a man faked his own suicide,”
The old man recalled, “got his friends
To thinking he’d turned out the lights
At 55, was no longer alive, was ripe
For elegies, and a damn fine poet
Wrote one and praised this here
Would-be suicide as one of the immortals
Whose work would live on as a testament
To his integrity. Oops, that there word
Don’t work too good no more, now that
There’s no suicide there, now that the man
Has been alive this past decade
And living shamefaced and wishing
He was dead all these years. Yep,” the old man
Said, tossing his dead butt into the fire.
“Yep, I sure wish I’d a done the deed
Back then and didn’t have to tell about it
No more, but young poets like you,
They come and seek me out and want to know
The truth, and the truth is, I knew a man once
Faked his own suicide and lived shamefaced
For years and then decided that his story
Kept him going, that he had to keep
Retelling it and telling it straight, telling it
With the integrity he lost at 55, till that story
Became his one shot at immortality.
So go back out of these here hills and tell
My story straight, tell folks that you met
The man who faked his own suicide
And faked his own life until he could tell
About it and hop e for redemption,
’Cuz without hope for redemption,
Young feller, there ain’t no hope at all.”
Then he shut up tighter than a tortoise
When your shadow falls on it
And he stared into the embers
And I took my leave. But I still can hear
His voice reaching for the truth
And hear his soul seeking redemption
By retelling his own best story.


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