Last Call

Last Call
by Anthony Liccione

I was in Maine when you called
with troubling words,
a frog in your throat
it must have been a struggle
to find me unlisted. Then push those
eleven digits slowly, when you found me,
unsure daringly- perspiring under
the ringing bell in your ear.

I didn’t know the voice
until a short snort of indignation
came through, blowing cigarette
smoke between gasps-
then I realized it was you.
A saturated weary soul
was the way I remember you
when I parted.
How you never showed up
as my best man,
left me standing ringless with my
to be wife
-made the worst scene in my life.
I should have known you’d be
lost somewhere between Red Wine
and Bourbon St.–
the road you’ve been traveling down so
long now, when I was young.

You told me they gave you six months,
the third opinion was eight.
Twenty years since we last spoke-
still didn’t seem to care where I was
in life, just that you were dying.
And the world was still moving
continuing around the moon and sun-
life didn’t take time out.
For you, it was all about you.

Cancer? Liver complications?
Is it a bad heart, I asked?
Cancer… throat, you answered,
coughing up mucus.
I wasn’t all too surprised,
the way you smoked
and the words you spoke.
Cancer was your horoscope, was it
not? How this all seemed
like your long awaited curse.

When we hung up,
you never called again. And I
never cried.
It came sooner than predicted,
you were in bed, your body
half in half out
of the moon, legs hanging off
the edge when the overnight
visiting nurse found you.
Pillow and blankets on the floor,
tell how you fought your lost
doppelgangers in the last hour.

How Solitary stayed in your life,
played the precious friend
to you, the distant fiend,
who vowed to never abandon you.
But how I did, and how she,
also, threw that gold-vowed ring
on the pillow and walked away
from a tarnished marriage.
How you awoke and found
the darkness vanished by light,
the coldness at side
that once was warmth.
Her smell of flowers,
flawed by the whiff
of alcohol,
stale in your breath.

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