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Art Poetry

Giving the Finger to Mr. Death

“And each time I’m reminded of my age and that this is how it will be.”

By Larry Smith

Once a week it seems
I drive past St. Peter’s Church
and catch a parking lot full of cars.
No, not for the church but a funeral.
And each time I’m reminded of my age
and that this is how it will be.

I try to tell myself, I am ready
as I dart past the crowded lot.
Only lately a suited man
stands out on the street
offering purple death flags
to all who must pass.

I swerve to avoid him, only
this time he stares right at my face
and I gush a breath then thrust
my middle finger up and curse,
“Get back, you prick, Mr. Death!”

At the corner I’m stunned at myself
and know I’ve miles to go before I sleep.


Larry Smith is a poet, fiction writer and biographer of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Kenneth Patchen. His most recent work is Thoreau’s Lost Journal: Poems and Tu Fu Comes to America. He’s a professor emeritus of Bowling Green State University in Ohio and director of Bottom Dog Press. He and his wife live along the shores of Lake Erie in Ohio.

Photo by Madeleine Maguire on Unsplash