Cajun Mutt Press Featured Writer 02/03/21

Failure

At nineteen I tried to kill myself
by jumping off Solomon’s Bridge.
I fell one-hundred-thirty-five feet,
broke my back in three places,
my right leg in two, and I sprained my
left wrist and right ankle.
From that height, the surface of water
is hard as cement.
The doctors pronounced it a miracle.

The next time I tried it,
I threw myself off of the roof
just to land on a snow-covered hedge.
(The yard crew pronounced it a miracle.)
After that, no more jumping –
I didn’t want to repeat myself.
I thought it would bring me bad luck.

But now I was inspired
to try all sorts of different ways.
I slit my wrists, to no avail –
they found me alive in the tub, hardly bleeding.
Again, the doctors pronounced it a miracle.

I stuck my head in the oven,
but the gas got cut off.
I had failed to pay my utility bill.
The gas guy pronounced it a miracle.

I rammed my car into my house
at fifty-five miles an hour.
It was an old house and it gave,
and the airbags deployed –
even though I had disabled them.
My adjuster pronounced it a miracle.

I ingested a bottle of sleeping pills
and swallowed it down with a bottle of gin.
I awoke the next day, quite alive,
in a puddle of drying vomit.
The cleaner pronounced it a miracle.

They put me under observation.
They sent me to the nuthouse. I liked it there.
They gave me clean sheets
I could hang myself with.
And I tried, once or twice, with no luck.
The head nurse pronounced it a miracle.

I got put in a straight jacket,
locked in a rubber room, fed medication.
They wanted to know why I wanted to die.
I told them I wasn’t quite sure.
I had had many good reasons, but now I’ve forgotten.
I seem to recall feeling misery, apathy, agony –
all of that good stuff and plenty more, too –
but the meds had all shoved it away.
Then, when funding ran out, they released me.
(And no one pronounced it a miracle.)

So, I stumbled around on the streets
and I tried to accomplish my life’s single goal,
but I failed, and I failed, and I failed, again.
And the decades went by and I aged quite a lot,
and a relative found me and put me in here,
and proclaimed that a miracle, too.

I play chess, watch tv,
I’ve got friends of a sort.
I’m warm and dry – decently fed.
I’m as happy as I’ve ever been.
Still, I’m growing anxious.
I don’t have much time left.
I get older each day; and the chances get scarce –
gotta shit or get off of the pot.

But what gets me the most,
above everything else,
is knowing that if I don’t do it,
successfully for once in my life,
and pretty damn soon,
I’m gonna run out of time,

and that one fateful morning,
I’ll wake up and discover I’m too late –
I’ve died in my sleep, in my chair, on the floor,
in the rec room, the tv room, the lobby, the hallway,
or just right there on the pot,
with my pants round my ankles,
and snot dripping out of my nose.
And then, knowing me,
I’ll spend the rest of eternity,
somewhere as horrible as anyplace else
berating myself
over a life filled with failure,
and missed opportunity.

©2021 Damian Ward Hey All rights reserved.

Damian Ward Hey has had poetry published in several places, including Poetry Pacific, Truck, and Cricket Online Review. His work will appear in the upcoming anthology, Poets with Masks On. He lives on Long Island and is a professor of literature and theory at Molloy College.

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