137. On Receiving the Key to Unit F-25

This November

has been as mismatched

as my funeral suit.

The chill air

came to claim me

and the free wine

tried to fight it off.

And I have not slept

in days when someone hands me

a box of belongings:

artifacts of a lost


that I had only seen

the ruins of in you.

And your foul breath preserved

in blues harp after blues harp,

these harmonicas wheezing

your way back into the world

these exhalations you’d saved without knowing it.

And now your sons

wonder about you.

I wonder about that man

who’d gone so wrong.

What hard things

had calloused your demeanor

while your hands remained

so tender,

so surprisingly steady,

with a good pencil clenched

between these same fingers I’ve inherited.

You remained to the last

a conjurer of images, images

almost shockingly whimsical

in your private ossuary

your personal frownland, which I cannot go back to.

Your cabinet of curiosities

whose doors have now been closed,

whose guts now sit in a storage unit,

placed there by hands more sure than mine.

Now all I can do

is plunk out shaking

some song on the piano

that I’m pretty sure you hated

and otherwise occupy myself

with my destructive love, destructive

in a different way than yours was.

Here I am in my current apartment,

my walls so sparse, babysitting a furnace

that doesn’t like to stay lit

with no sackcloth or ashes.

The ashes I’ve refused.

They are not you.

       — Timothy Volpert

In addition to being a poet, Timothy Volpert is also a musician, and co-manages Blue Planet Cafe in Topeka. His poems have been published by the wonderful folks at seveneightfive magazine, Coal City Review, Inscape, Blue Island Review and more. He loves you, and wants the best for you.


One thought on “137. On Receiving the Key to Unit F-25

  1. The Kansas poets are a really talented bunch. I have been looking at different poems and different poets for a couple of weeks now, and I am impressed by the depth of idea, feeling, and craft that I find.

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