by Philip F. Clark

On the train in the morning

in a crush of bodies and sweat

I read the news: ". . . have successfully

'deleted' the virus from the body." Gone.


Gone -- all those years

of oh I wish you would leave me

and oh please leave me, please, just go.

Gone; eloped to Vegas perhaps.


Erased. Like chalk across my body,

a fine powder of forgetfulness,

with a few swipes --- all those names

and faces, gone. The letters burned.


"Begone, you have no power here,"

the beautiful lady said, and off it went.

It left my body. No long good-byes,

no rent overdue. No thank-you's.


And I looked at myself, and waited

for the change to begin; the skin

to soften once again, the face to fill,

the hair to glow, the eyes to shine.


Gone. The years gone. What magic!

All the pretty pills I used to play

chess with: the blue King; the pink

Queen; the red and white Rook.


Gone. It took everything with it.

Except these: humor, anger, and memory;

a certain truth told slant, like the poet said.

Obliterated. With a needle, no less.


Forgiven completely like a student loan --

"Zero balance due." Gone, like last night's

misbegotten moon. Now, out of work,

the pallbearer's hands have nothing to do.