Probably you have shins.
If you were born shinless
there would still be something between
your knee and ankle and we
could call that space
just as we could say the unknown guy
who supposedly wrote Shakespeare’s plays
was also, coincidentally, named Shakespeare.
That was a long sentence.
We elected a president who has shins.
He stands with other world leaders,
or they sit talking with their shins
parked indifferently under
the table like service dogs.
Let’s say you’re feeling bad, or else good—
no matter: your shins will still be
only okay. Unless you whack them
on, for example, something.
In that case go ahead and scream why don’t you.
“Son of a bitch!” you could shout,
like your father, or just bark.
In closing, you might think of trees
as having shins. They don’t.
I don’t want to die. Not on a day
that’s cloudy or clear, near women
pretty or plain, listening to the song
of a sparrow or a truck backing up,
or the Roberta Flack tune I belt out
under cover of an arriving train.
Not while falling in love or breaking up,
or doing both at the same time, as rain
pours off the café awning, and baristas in
their aprons scramble to get bowls under
all the leaks. I don’t want it to stop—
I feel I’ve been alive
less than the seven days allotted the housefly.
Whatever I’ve read about death,
whatever I believed about past lives,
parallel universes, the eternal—just forget it.
There’s no world but this one,
no river to cross, no other
side to see you on.