When he died his heirs discovered an accumulation
in his clothes: in a left pants pocket a torn belt loop
and a lozenge embittered by lint, in the right
a coin with the face of a dehydrated president.
From a back pocket — the one without a wallet —
they extracted a shy ticket stub. An old suit
contained an invitation to an empire’s collapse,
an expired analgesic, and a steadfast comb.
From an oversized robe they dislodged, with effort,
a sleepless night that inspired his preoccupied mind.
From a leather jacket they set free an American
highway parallel to a longer, more scenic route.
At last they removed each item from the pocket nearest his heart:
a crushed pine cone, an unattached button, a charred ambition.
— Alan Elyshevitz
Alan Elyshevitz is a poet, short story writer, and teacher from East Norriton. His story collection The Widows and Orphans Fund was published recently by Stephen F. Austin State University Press. His poetry chapbooks include The Splinter in Passion’s Paw (New Spirit) and Theory of Everything (Pudding House). He is a two-time recipient of a fellowship for fiction from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. Currently he teaches writing at the Community College of Philadelphia.