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From the Neck Up

by Lisa Marie Brodsky

It’s the most important 8 seconds of your life.
Not exactly your life because you’re dead,
but these seconds don’t belong to death, either.

No matter how it happens – freak sawing accident,
knife sliced through you, turtleneck that’s way too tight –
think what can be done in 8 seconds.

You remember where the keys are. You think to call
your mother for the last time. Think to put on
clean underwear. That’s what she would want, anyway.

The mailman arrives and slips your last letter
through the slot with a swoosh onto
the bare, wooden floor. Could it be from your
ex-lover or the IRS or – oh, you can’t think that far,
it would take too long…

Light may gleam down upon you;
it may not.
You may pray for darkness to come over you;
it may not.
And oh my beheaded god, you still have these 8 seconds.
These 8 seconds are granted to you and believe it:
you’re stuck.

You have to look in the garage at the hanging knives
and saws, the hanging plants you always
meant to put outside, but which now die their own slow deaths.

Or you look around your bedroom at the picture
of you skiing in Boulder, frostbitten smile,
your lover and you sitting in front of a fireplace,
nose to nose, oblivious that your friend sneaks a picture.

A child in overalls with floppy hair runs past – it’s you from long ago–
and you reach out, but just as you think you make contact,
the 9th second comes upon you and you are gone as fast as
seconds are to one who meditates on an hour,
thinking they have a whole life
to live.


Author's Note: hhmmm...am I actually writing HUMOROUS poetry???? That's a new one...

Posted on 09/05/2004
Copyright © 2022 Lisa Marie Brodsky

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Dan Garcia-Black on 09/05/04 at 09:44 PM

Unable to restrain myself from stating the obvious, you neglected 'Just enough time to make love.' or Did I miss it?

Posted by Meghan Helmich on 07/21/08 at 06:55 PM

maybe i missed the point..i thought this was about death? hmm

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