I Am The Perfect Guest

I’m pressing my cause,
throwing false coins for fortune.
I’m pushing the boundaries of
friendship and the need to know.
Far from my father’s fields
I’ve pawned the pilgrim’s flask.
Waiting for my case to be called.
I’m wearing the white of mourning,

Like the man who boards week to week—
the quiet, bedroom drinker
who rises early, who cannot sleep,
who doesn’t seek to share
his finer, deeper philosophy,
I am the perfect guest.

I’m not, she chants,
your mother, your nurse,
your midnight quest.
I won’t carry your debts.
I won’t do the cleanup,
the smoothing call.
Absent regret or shame,
I won’t stay for the appeal
or the penalty phase.

Like a trophy lover, second husband,
I’m the present choice in life.
I receive no answers.
I’m requested not to inquire.
In the valley of bones, I burn
marrow to light another’s place.
I am the perfect guest.

R.T. Castleberry, a Pushcart Prize nominee, has work in Vita Brevis, San Pedro River Review, Trajectory, Silk Road, StepAway and Dissident Voice. Internationally, he's had poetry published in Canada, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, France, New Zealand, Portugal, the Philippines, India and Antarctica. His poetry has appeared in the anthologies: You Can Hear the Ocean: An Anthology of Classic and Current Poetry, TimeSlice, The Weight of Addition, and Level Land: Poetry For and About the I35 Corridor. Read other articles by R.T..