January—gray with leftover December darkness.

He’s dead, and I didn’t know he was sick.


Don’t you hate it when faux mourners adopt

the dead? Temporary status against


permanent loss. I stay home from the funeral

with the deeper pain after the surface pain


has slunk away. I let him go, so I’m not claiming

him now. I scratch my nails into window frost


clearing words that will melt away come sun.

You’re coming, right, sun? I start to sing a hymn


but even alone, I don’t have the will. Cold

in the big Out There, black branches’ desperate


tremble captured by the cruel trestle. Who’s going

to dig the hole in this weather? Not me,


with my shallow mourning.


Jim Daniels’ recent poetry books include Rowing Inland and Street Calligraphy, 2017, and The Middle Ages, 2018. He is the author of five collections of fiction, four produced screenplays, and has edited five anthologies, including Challenges to the Dream: The Best of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards, a competition for high school and college students that he founded in 1999. His next collection of short fiction, The Perp Walk, will be published by Michigan State University Press in 2019.

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