"Thelonius" by Christopher Raley

Thelonious used to call life and death play things.Rocking mirth on his knee, he spoke in dissonant bursts. He led us to the night sky lake where he sent out accusations to bob on havoc-rippled reflections of the moon and to float ashore to the line of us.

I watched him like a man watches the gauge go to end, gripping the wheel and steering though he just as well stop. It will stop here or it will stop there, and here or there are both a thousand miles from towns and borders in a waste of dry words split before and behind by a long black line.

Death is easy. It paints what it has heard of beauty and then describes the painting while shadows pool in its sallow cheeks. Death's words are severed hands that scratch and scatter like November leaves on cracked and gray, forgotten streets. Death hobbles down empty halls on broken feet, calling for the doctor with a bitter back to God.

Yet hasn't my heart found definition in words? None other than the tongue can lift up this confession: I stood with him by the lake pronouncing accusations until I became dizzy from the hazard alterations of light and dark, hypnotizing into memory with a permanence that seemed not to weigh on the others. Their words were tossed about to someone else's shore, but the wind brought mine to my feet.

Death is easy, yes, but life is hard. We struggle, my friend, and always have.