He heard God coughing in the next apartment,
his life a hospital, he moved from bed to bed
with us and Baudelaire, except he always had
Finnegans Wake tucked in his pajamas,
which must mean, sure as chance,
the human race is God’s phlegm. Penitent,
I say a prayer in God’s throat:
“Mister, whose larynx we congest,
spit us into the Atlantic or Hudson…
let us be dropped into the mouth of the first fish
that survived by eating its young—
drink hot tea and honey Your mother brings You
till You are rid of Your catarrh, well again.
Let us swim back to our handiwork.”

Far from the world of Howth Castle, Delmore died
in a bed-bugged hotel, unclaimed for three days.
A week before, by chance, I saw him
at a drugstore counter, doubled over a coffee,
he moaned, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
deceitful enemy kisses.”
He held my hand too tight, too long.
Melancholy Eros flew to my shoulder,
spoke in Greek, Yiddish, and English:
“Wear his sandals, his dirty underwear,
his coat of many colors that did not keep him warm.”