(A bowler collapsed and died after rolling the third perfect game of his life. A friend bowling with him stated: “If he could have written a way to go out, this would be it.”)

It’s easy for bowlers and runners like Jim Fixx

whose measure of pleasure and personal best

can be easily counted.

The sedentary man can only die happily

when he is supremely tumescent, visually

enthralled by girls gone wild or like

Nelson Rockefeller engrossed by a secretary

offering a night of Turkish Delight.

Others can strike a hole-in-one at Myrtle Beach,

smiling gleefully as they fall face down

kissing the putting green as they go out.

For some, jigging for mackerel or hauling

in a sinewy blue fin tuna is enough to leave

them breathless and blanched, turning cyanotic.

Now Viagra and Cialis do it all for you

as men stand tall as the sturdy oak mizzenmasts

on marauding Viking ships listening for

the thump-a-bump of a final heart beat.

As for poets, the pinnacle of success

is ambiguous as next week’s weather forecast.

Striving to publish, poets must guard against

a myocardial infarct when the mail is replete

with: sorry, do try us again. I’d prefer to leave

in a flush of euphoria, imploding to a flourish

of silver trumpets, discovering one of my poems

in the latest New Yorker. I would lead

the publishing parade, listening to the clatter of

tambourines and the boom-cha-takataka

boom-cha of the snare drum, ascending to

ethereal heights under the multi-colored

luminosity of the Aurora Borealis

entering the realm of the ineffable.

Milton P. Ehrlich