Jim Daniels

Last Day in Coldwater
October 12, 2011 Daniels Jim

Last Day in Coldwater

Our phone died due to lack
of payment. I left her a note
and trudged down
the gray splintered stairs.

She was sleeping the weekly
sleep of the dead,
the morning crash after the stairs
burned down beneath her.

After days of artificially sustained
floating above the scorched earth.

Paying bills required
a certain sustained attention.
We had cold water
and nothing more.

The unwritten debts were due.
They had the steepest

Listening to the blue music
of our veins, we had broken
the unwritten rules
and red-tagged our whereabouts.

I walked through dawn
and into hunger. I walked past
the smell of coffee and the shrinking
menu of our young lives.

We were close to Ohio,
closer to Indiana. Michigan
did not want us. We had no friends.
They had exploded

in one of our many miracles gone
wrong. She slept with hands limp
over the fold-out couch—our bed.

She’d want a fix when she awoke
to wind her clock.  How many pencils
can you have with hardened erasers
before you throw them all out?

Disconnected. Perhaps the recorded
message might briefly fool those out
to find us. Precision lost

its wings, then the wheels fell off.
We repossessed each other, in lieu
of fiscal responsibility. The wind swung wide
across the flat land. My face stung

with radioactive love. For her,
for it, and what came first? The drugs.
The drugs came first, so I mention them
last. Someone was going to climb the stairs

and it wouldn’t be me, and what
would they demand? I should’ve
woken her, but I did not. I should’ve
shaken the map in her face.

Look where we are,
I should have said.

Jim Daniels’ latest poetry collections include Gun/Shy, Wayne State University Press, and a chapbook, The Human Engine at Dawn, Wolfson Press. His next fiction collection, The Luck of the Fall, Michigan State University Press, is forthcoming in fall 2023. A native of Detroit, he lives in Pittsburgh and teaches in the Alma College low-residency MFA program.