Two Live, One Dies

He seemed embarrassed to call,

but now,
he clutches my hair painfully,
fistfuls of soft brown waves
twirled up and tangled in his white knuckle fists.

His head rests on my shoulder and
bobs gently in steady shakes.

I am crying,
but my tears are running down my throat
so he won’t feel them.

My hands pet his hair and face
like a mother and son
and I whisper nonsensical
like empathy is possible.

He is mumbling words,
prayers wet on my shirt,
for the friend in the backseat–
white sandy hair
bleached eyebrows
tanned legs
soft snores now permanent.

(r.i.p. dave hayes 2002)

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