Robert Parham

A friend just told me he was dead

A friend just told me he was dead. He produced

the newspaper, flipped to the obits, sure enough:

there he was, right down to the initial.

“You can see why it spooked me,” he says,

without a laugh. I look at the paper to see

if it’s a fake, the sort produced for gag shops

and sold at the beach, in places for tourists

and drunks. Real as, well, real, I determine.

But, much as one’s life, so too one’s death

requires reading to the last word, the period,

or as the Germans say, punkt. Near the end

were things my friend has never been.