congrats, Chinaski

as I near 70
I get letters, cards, little gifts
from strange people.
congratulations, they tell
me,
congratulations

I know what they mean:
the way I have lived
I should have been dead in half
that time

I have piled myself with a mass of
grand abuse, been
careless toward myself
almost to the point of
madness,
I am still here
leaning toward this machine
in this smoke-filled room,
this large blue trashcan to my
left
full of empty
containers

the doctors have no answers
and the gods are
silent

congratulations, death,
on your patience.
I have helped you all that
I can

now one more poem
and a walk out on the balcony,
such a fine night there

I am dressed in shorts and stockings,
gently scratch my old
belly,
look out there
look off there
where dark meets dark

it's been one hell of a crazy
ballgame

©Linda Lee Bukowski - used with permission