Coleman Barks – The Final Final

Hundred and Sixty Three 9.14.16

Don’t let this poem’s format deter you from diving in Bark’s beautiful mind. If you want you can listen to him read it for you!

And this the first time you are seeing this lil site of mine! I am still learning my way around this place!

Coleman Barks
The Final Final

I missed giving my final final exam. I slept through it. The alarm didn’t sound, or I turned it off in my sleep. I’m buying a new clock. But maybe it’s perfect this way. They wrote me such letters. I’ll give them all A’s. But that moment will not come back, no matter how I call, howl for it to, weep. This morning will not come back this afternoon.

This class really was the best I ever, and I regret, I regret. It hurts so much missing the saying goodbye to each as they come up, my best, my last. I cannot believe I missed the final final. The predictable conclusion to my legend in the English department. The secretaries loved it. I can’t believe it, and I won’t say I am sorry. I am sorry, like my mother used to call unreliable hired help. You can’t count on him; he’s just sorry. You never know if he’ll show up. I’m sorry I won’t say I’m sorry.

And actually it gives me a chance to 40 A’s, which out of some arrogant, ungenerous grading attitude, I would not have done, which now I do, with an iron whang of the Grades Only chut door in the back of the Academic Building, and an illegal pull of the chapel bell. Do you reckon I’ll sleep through my death, another pull, sleep through Resurrection Day, another, and have to do this whole jabbering career again, pull, or will I get to go on to some other plane where there’s no such thing as dreamless sleep and discipline and drinking too much the night before and faulty clocks and forgetfulness and the frustration of saying anything in from of groups, and no such thing as a regret and the satisfaction of a job well done, and no more ceremonial walk-through doors, and no way to miss the living moments, and no way to try and write them right.

Or say there is nothing after now. Then that lovely bunch of young people talking and laughing and writing me letters, forgiving me even, straggling out of the that room made sacred by our presence and attention, were gone when I arrived at 10:45. You created quite a stir around here says someone on the hall bench. I bet. I heard them say you’ve used up your poetic license.

This is how death might surprise, as the thing undone, irremediably missed-out-on. You round a corner and the backyard party with your friends is breaking up. Where have you been! Alone, asleep. If I lived someone, I might have been jogged awake, reminded, but I still don’t want to live with anyone.

I’m unrepentently, sufficiently, some would say terribly, alone. Look at me and be frightened of not pouring the last of the love and wakefulness you’re given, which is every moment, but moreso some than others. Emptying out is the point. In time, over time, be early.

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