Christmas Eve 2018

Ed with his grandson, Joshua Bathe, Christmas Eve 2018
Christmas Eve 2018

A clock tick away
from thirty
my grandson lowers
onto a chair beside me
where we stare
at the curious
chiaroscuro of Christmas
lights blinking in a
pattern as undetectable
as the reasons for his

He sips air
with the feeblest exertion
of swamp-diseased lungs.
Some days he compares it
to inhaling gauze, others to
swallowing fish hooks.
Either way, the cosmic
prankster of mirth and misery
won’t let him forget that
“shit can get real in a hurry.”

What he says he’ll miss most
is the chance to make
mistakes he won’t live
to regret.
To him
being dead
is knowing this
is his last Christmas
with familiar strangers
who can’t love him enough
to save him.

He thanks me for
not praying for a miracle
and secures a promise
I’ll deliver his eulogy
when he slides out of focus
in time.

In the half-dark
between us
he drinks to my health.

A corridor
narrows to a point
like a lesson in perspective,
then vanishes.

He won’t survive the spring.
His short story ends in past
tense, leaving his whereabouts
a matter of mute speculation.
All that’s certain is
he entered the space-time
continuum prematurely
and left the same way.

He’s an actuarial accident.

In the absence
of life-time accomplishments,
I say to those
gathered for his service
that he was nothing
if not authentic.

What I can’t say
is whether he regretted
surviving an uneasy birth
just to occupy an organism
flawed in design
and programmed for untimely

A riot
at the cellular level
triggered a chain reaction
in his brain’s discovery
its knowledge was insufficient
for the task at hand
and subsequent disappointment
it was never any other

**Featured image from

***Insert image courtesy of Erik Bathe and Edward Francisco


  1. Oh my. I’m without words. So very … I can barely see through the tears.

  2. Eddie, this is a powerful, heartrending poem.

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