Lazarus

 

Returned to life
in perfect health,
as if death was the remedy
for terminal illness;
so if my wife hesitates
to sleep with me
who can blame her?
A man mounts the stairs:
black suit, make-up
still caked to his face,
a rosary braided
through his fist ...
But she'll get over it.
The kids will bring their friends
home again after school,
and the dog stop howling.

And if they're not satisfied
the ring around the tub
is only dirt,
there now are options
(perhaps a new life
must be different).
Lawyers trail me like shadows --­
Life insurance tied up in court;
I'm on the circuit
with faith healers and kooks
who claim flying saucers
took them to Saturn. We lunch
aboard yachts of aging millionaires;
ghost writers bid for my
Adventures from Beyond;
contracts, agents, endorsements, movies ...

My style's a cryptic smile
as if there's plenty I could say
if they just got me drunk enough.

And the ladies flirt
like girls around a priest.
I tell them I'm just your average
working stiff.

Everything's funny, I answer
when they ask me on TV, "Mr. Lazarus,
why are you always smiling?"
Thanks for everything. Yes,
it's fine to be alive,
in love with myself again,
the next death my only worry.

 

From Brass Knuckles (Univ. of Pittsburgh Press)