Poem 156 ± November 7, 2015

Don Russ
What Would I Have Said?

“O, Johnny, I hardly knew ye.”
—Irish folk song

What would I have said to a legend
of size and scheduled product, a starring
set of parts? How do you do? How do you
do it? Is fit enough?

A thousand women and they say
some men? In the end does it matter
which? Or second drink in hand:
It isn’t acting is it?

Action, yes—lubed and lighted
action. But acting? Given the synecdoche
of the standard shots what difference
would it make? You couldn’t fake it,
couldn’t butt or unembodied breathe
us to belief in seedy make-believe.
And wouldn’t you say your body’s use
makes you an object too?

But now he’s down? Played out?
Paid? Flesh made lesson, fed the jaws
of some awful justice? Nothing
we say is for the dead, the living
dead, the sick among us.

Have mercy, Lord, it’s for all of us,
flawed and dying too.

Don RussDon Russ is the author of Dream Driving (Kennesaw State University Press, 2007) and the chapbooks Adam’s Nap (Billy Goat Press, 2005) and World’s One Heart (The Next Review, 2015). His poem “Girl with Gerbil” was chosen for inclusion in The Best American Poetry 2012 after it appeared in The Cincinnati Review.