Death’s Sympathy

by Jay Rogoff

He felt bad for them—not guilty, just bad
enough to offer them some stately twangling
on his ukulele as they left, straggling
as in a funeral dance. He’d play their guide,
helping them choose their rest stops while they cried
tears, naturally; he’d boost their pride, rankling
with rejection; he’d help the poor guy drudging—
he’d shovel, jawboning side by side, same side
his wife sprang from, supermodel-gaunt, bone-
thin then, now zaftig, apple-cheeked, windfall-
fed. But their endless busy-work! Toil, spin,
each day wasted in digging a deeper hole—
for what? Let her keep cooing at their son
nursing, the one he’d heard them call, yes, Cain.

JAY ROGOFF is the winner of The Third Annual Robert Watson Poetry Award for his chapbook Twenty Danses Macabre. Rogoff received an MA in creative writing and a DA (Doctor of Arts) at Syracuse University. He has written three books of poetry with two forthcoming, and his first book, The Cutoff (1995) was the winner of the Washington Prize. The poems in this chapbook will appear as part of a longer sequence in The Art of Gravity (LSU, forthcoming, 2011). He teaches English part-time at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY.