In Memoriam Ann Savage

Since we still die
or fail to procreate
and coffee is still black
until the cream

I ask where existentialism
went, and why the Bogart
dream of a man going it alone
(or woman) in an alley-world

gaunt and unshaven
has ceased to pack
the punch it used to;
often I feel there’s no way

out, and no detour too;
if not for affection, humour
and forgiveness, the tally
would be one-sided in favour

of buying it straight away;
the early pleasures of skin
are knocked sideways
by indigestion, and ulcers;

only so much gin before
the clever liver says goodbye;
but you’ve got to soldier on,
and employ a few words

on a daily basis,
picking the ones from the back
of the truck that look ready
to work, sending the other

sorry sons-of-guns
to loiter on the margins
of long, toothless cities;
but even language quits

when the season’s done,
the time for harvest fits
in the palm of one torn hand,
in the swiped wallet you lost,

and the rest of the year
is all about chilled fear mostly,
and trying to cheat more shadow
from out of the measly skinflint sun.

poem by Todd Swift
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