The Best Man
Published in The Raleigh Quarterly
Carlos emailed to say so long,
He was going to put a gun in his mouth:
Kaput, or maybe he'd slit his wrists
With the very envelopes that had held
Her first letters to him—so sweet, so sweet.
But she had betrayed him. He had no choice
But to rope off his neck and plunge
"Like a winsome star into oblivious space."
I rushed over to his place, put on some tea,
And we watched his gold yellow fish
Do what they do. We sipped brandy
And listened to something unspeakably
Maudlin, the songs that make you laugh
For crying. Finally, I spoke, softly
And slowly and he listened, he was ready
To hear to reason. What good would it do
To shoot yourself or hang yourself today?
If she's as bad as you say you'll vanish
From her memory in a week. Wait,
I advised, until the morning of your wedding—
After she's selected the dress, the cake,
Her maid of honor and the song
For your first dance as a married couple—
Then blow your brains to kingdom come.
She'll never forget that gift, I said.
He poured another round and showed me
How to make my yellow gold fish
Do what they do.