Close to the end of their long search for truth

I found two old men

Who wanted no part of it.

Broken spirits whose weathered bodies

Could not bear the load,

Whose decaying teeth fell out

So their words no longer had a bite

And their powers were left suspended in a glass on the night stand.

The lost hopes and embittered betrayals of life

Just sat there between us on the table like undrunk coffee

That we all knew was cold and thick and burned the throat.

“I cannot live through another war,”

Said one.

“None of my so called friends helped me,”

Said the other.

And their eyes looked like the image of the damned in Michaelangelo,

Facing death without hope.

Yet for years one had hung on to his dead wifes’ clothes

As if saving them for the final redemption

And one sacrificed the last dregs if his strength

To maintain his spouse’s dignity and modesty in front of strangers.

What is the true meaning of their lives:

That final moment of complete despair

Or those acts of kindness and hope?

A whole life of activity devoted to survival?

Or the realization of each that he died alone

After all.

My children’s grandfathers both had to lie helpless and pass into the dark

Without anyone’s warm presence,

Before the messiah’s last arrival

And without ever knowing how the whole damned thing turns out.

So do me a favour when I get too tired to live

And, like the horse that breaks its leg in a race,

Just shoot me between the eyes.