Life Studies

Anne Sexton started her car in the garage
and got to the afterlife without hitting afternoon traffic.

Robert Lowell. In a cab. From a heart attack.
On his way to see his ex-wife. I have never been to an asylum.

Then there's Nicolas Plath who hung himself in Alaska,
though Sylvia saved him from the gas
when she put her own head in the oven.
Haven't been to Alaska either.

The bottle led John Berryman to the Washington Avenue Bridge
and pushed him off.
I've never been to Minneapolis.

Sharon Olds, I have not lost my father.
Marie Howe, I have not lost my mother.
They are both in Cincinnati and we call on Sundays.

Matthew Dickman, my brother did not
cover his body with pain-relief patches,
he is with you in Portland.
Maybe you will meet him and his brown dog, Lucy.

The other is studying medicine, life saving, how to
pull Berryman off the bridge, resuscitate Sexton,
talk Plath away from the oven.

And I am writing poetry,
putting my head in the oven to retrieve a warm casserole.

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