There's no need to explain why I was there,
Where the air shuns character for purpose,
Where you sweat buckets under the sheets
And the days just come and go.
There's no need to explain why my bones creaked,
Or why I found it hard to swallow
Because there's a withered old man in the bed beside me,
And 'he might not make tomorrow'.
That's what a nurse told me;
His condition was the worst they'd seen
During his stay. This was my first day,
So I couldn't reply; instead I'd lie
Motionless and listen to what they had to say.
They called him bitter and twisted;
Like every word he hissed was a closed fist
That he threw and made them kiss it;
But I didn't even know his name;
He sat in silence, blankly gazing at the TV
As the hours stumbled by, without a glint
In his eyes. I wanted to ask him what it
Felt like knowing he could die at any moment,
But I couldn't find the nerve to do it;
So I kept quiet, and kept watching
Until dusk set in and he said
'I'd normally want a penny for my thoughts,
But what good would it do me now?
So whatever you want to say, say it, but
Cut the *******; I've said a thousand times
That I don't want to die--not yet,
I have regrets that I need to overcome;
So let's get this done and dusted'.
I asked him
'What did you used to do?'
'I used to burn cigarettes', he replied.
'I used to burn cigarettes, but not to smoke;
I'd watch the ash hold firm until it reached the ****
Then watch it fall apart and float away in the breeze.
Now I'm here, not at ease, holding on tight,
Waiting for the final hour, watching the
Minute hand creep its way towards midnight'.
He turned away after that,
And I immediately wanted to ask
What it meant, but away he went,
Drifting off to nostalgia, to days
In the shade sipping ice cold lemonade,
Until he succumb to sleep.
He looked at peace, softly
Inhaling and exhaling beneath the sheets.
The morning came, and I sat up;
Nurses were all around him trying
To calm a fuss, but no machines buzzed
Or sounded alarms. It was a haze,
But from what I can remember,
The old man had only refused some grapes
Because he wanted to stay asleep.
That's what he told me anyway.
After a while, when the nurses left,
He asked if I had any questions;
I asked him about his regrets
And without hesitation, he said
'I wish I'd slept around more,
Caught a couple of diseases and broken some laws'.
There seemed to be a struggle after that,
But he managed a smile.
'Jokes aside', he continued, 'I wish that
I knew how to cry. I listened to every
Tom, ****, and Harry who told me I shouldn't;
They said what to believe but never told me why.
And I still can't--not even at this time.
I'm alive for now, but for how much longer?
I don't know, and after all is said
And done, what do I have to show
'Except a hardened cigarette ****?
A shell of a man who refused to lie down.
I've stood up to gravity long enough
But I can't admit that it will drag me to the ground.
I battled badly, and I've got many scars
Thanks to my wars, but just one conclusion:
It takes a lot more than pain to know
How fragile we really are.
'Have you ever had that dream
In which you're falling? I have,
And I know now that it's a warning;
We walk a tightrope called life,
And our subconscious is only brave enough to
Tell us that we will fall when we sleep at night.
I burned cigarettes instead of smoking them;
That's my regret'.
I didn't even know his name,
But that's the last thing he said to me;
I was rushed off to surgery,
And by the time I got back, his bed was empty.
He died, the nurses said, in a
Flurry and seemingly great haste,
With a smile they'd never seen before,
And tear marks down his face.
I hate this, but I stick to my words and post everything I write. I am starting to consider this a draft piece, but I'm trying to get across that life does end quicker than you can imagine, so live it.