“In the end our terrors will be one”
an angel of the apocalypse
told me leaning on the turnstile
to the three-county fair. A snake
swallowing a tiger. A tiger swallowing
a snake. Together we entered the large,
plain building’s vestibule, this messenger
from an ancient world and I, both
dreaming of the beautiful TV heiress.

Since then I’ve played it close
to the vest. Quiet at gatherings,
at the Sadie Hawkins lingering
among the vermin—dweebs,
losers, assholes: virgins every one.
Of my marriage I remember nothing.
Of my second marriage I remember pineapples.
I never expected more than what I was:
unassuming as a tollbooth,
a white fence in a snowy world.

Now that I’m dying I’ve begun
to receive strange messages
to which I compose elaborate responses
explaining my inability to attend.
Generally, it’s a quiet time.
I’m left with the immense quiet
of myself and what I know. To walk
among nettles unthinking,
to lower my head into a still pond
seeing only its local darkness.
When I start from my sleep
these days I want only the mind of a goat.