Death in the Suburbs

There are intangible realities which float near us,
formless and without words;
realities which no one has thought out,
and which are excluded for lack of interpreters.
—  Natalie Clifford Barney


He was really death?
I saw Death driving a small pickup truck. His disguise was perfect. I felt safe because he wasn’t looking in his rear-view mirror at me. He was following someone else. The experience was very matter-of-fact. Death, himself, looked ordinary. Except for his black cowl, he looked just like a fresh-faced kid.

he was really Death
the genuine article

imagine Death being a kid
nobody else noticed Death
driving down 124th street

that amazed me

I suppose that they’d panic if they did
so their defenses kicked in
but I didn’t panic

he was really Death
other people have dulled senses
they’re insensitive
too disinterested
to see the threat

his name was Death
he drove a cheap pickup truck
he looked like a kid
the only thing strange
about seeing Death
driving down 124th street
was his pickup
every other time that I saw him
Death drove a Camaro


I wrote this poem in 1997 in Kirkland, Washington. I had frequently observed that aggressive or menacing drivers preferred a few specific types and makes of vehicles. This time I was driving in rush hour traffic behind one such driver.

Advertisements