three years without

yesterday marked three years since your memorial 
at the club;
the one you took josh and me to as kids
on saturdays,
more than two decades ago.

the waitress was there.
she remembered me, she said,
and how she brought me sodas,
ginger ale, i think,
when she brought you your beers.

i remember too;
the round table i sat at,
the little plastic cups,
how we’d count your marlboro miles
that we’d find on the side of the road.

after the memorial,
i had a beer.
in your honor, i said.
how ironic,
or painfully poetic,
to toast the dead with alcohol
when it’d been the shovel that dug your grave.
your early grave.

it was the last beer i had,
after the last cigarette some days before.
my pack of yellow american spirits tossed in the trash,
as i watched your life slip away.
your cigarettes, the shovel.

i did it, i think, for you.
because you never could.
because you ran out of time.

three years without alcohol.
three years without a cigarette.
three years without you.


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