The day after Robin Williams died
I took a walk during lunch break
and wandered over to a little city fountain
where I sat and tried to read
Rain was on its way, that much seemed clear.
There was a gray quality to the air
and I suppose to my interior as well
as I thought about Robin Williams
and why all this – sky, trees, life – wasn’t enough
to keep him here a little longer.
It was none of my business but still
I wondered, and even looking around
wondered further how many of these
non-famous random midtown folks also felt
or would someday feel
or on some previous morning explored
the notion of not living as being a better option
than going on with the kicking of the can of life
each day a little further down the street.
Even if one of these strangers unknown to me
had yesterday evening lost their job
or their daughter,
weren’t they still making a go of it,
bravely extending the body out of bed,
putting on pants, slipping on old loafers,
pouring the cereal into the bowl,
going forward into the day? Even when
it all seemed thick as sun-dried mud
and who would really miss us after all?
Oh, but what a lie the snake-like mind can tell,
I double-backed, taking in
the woman in the red-polka-dotted dress,
the balding business executive slurping soup,
and the city maintenance worker
brooming up litter into dustpan,
as I imagined what he’d do after his shift was through,
maybe go home to a wife or a cat
or an HD TV mounted on the wall
and watch a movie, maybe Good Morning, Vietnam.
It felt like an anvil, to think of us
as wandering Lears without our faithful Fool.
But how proud I was, too, knowing that
the rest of us could – would – endure,
that nothing was worse than nothing,
that every blow landed toughened the hide,
that every loss stung but settled to a fade,
and if you could remember all of that –
and I hope to God you will –
Then there will be a tomorrow, and I will see you there.
Josh Lefkowitz won the 2013 Wergle Flomp Humor poetry contest. He has had poems published in Court Green, The Hairpin, and elsewhere. He has performed a pair of one-man shows in theaters across the country. He lives in Brooklyn.