To live as one already dead

There’ll be no announcement, nothing in the mail

like an invite to a wedding or bar-mitzvah, no

Tom & Jerry cartoon ending with: “That’s all, folks!”

No marching band with drum rolls, piccolos, fife

and glockenspiel inviting you to join the parade

with old vets in moth-eaten uniforms with

puffed up chests marching like proud young soldiers.

In this late afternoon of your days, stop whimpering,

moaning and groaning your mewling mantra:

“The end is near, the end is near!”

Be a sublime smiling Buddha.

Give up wanting. How many “death by chocolates”

can be savored before you’ve had enough?

Become a living poem, a synthesis of hyacinths

and biscuits, plant a tree, fructify an arbor with

concord grapes and tendrils of wisteria and honeysuckle.

Put on your cherubic dancing shoes zig-zagging in the wind

shrieking “whee, whee, whee!”

Sing a song as if the song could have no ending,

help old ladies cross the street, don’t eat meat,

pet a poodle, adopt a kitten, free a mouse and do not hunt;

throw back fish, don’t swat a fly or pulverize cockroaches

in the kitchen sink.

Don’t cheat on income tax, give generously to charity,

smiling anonymously.

Share your food with someone hungry, be kind to rats and lizards,

forgive all blackguards, gaze at the moon instead of TV, forget

the tumultuous days behind you, engage the tranquility of presence,

embrace the willed quiescence of the long sleep that awaits you

in the silent comfort of patchouli joss and sandalwood.

Milton P. Ehrlich 199 Christie St. Leonia, N.J.