The Last Thing

by Patrick Rosal


—they take the books
the crates
of eighties 12-inch singles

a few dozen letters
from Manila
they take

my stinky trash can
and cracked plastic chair
the rickety

plywood shelves
eleven photos of my mother

leaving me
with one
They take
the dim shots
of my brothers’
young faces beside mine
They take away

the clean sheets folded
among the soiled ones
the hand towels
stained with fevers and shit
and official
notices of all my debt
in a box
with three dead flies
and the tangled brush of a woman whom I loved
for one whole week
remembering her
makes me
lift my hand
as if to propose half a prayer
or to illustrate
the best way
to answer a deaf king

is to drop
a fist
on a heavy table
in place
of blasphemy’s

last syllable
They take it

from a cold
five-foot space
when I can’t pay

they cross out my name
double- shackle

the gate
fill every
proper form
and price
the pitiful lot

for the block
They call me
to cough

and over
say: explain yourself: I don’t
have the cash
is like you’re made
of 10,000
beautiful doors

and every day
you try to keep them
from flying open
at once
They reach inside
and take
the boxes of shoes
and old shirts
the third-hand
scratched up
oak desk
I heaved up
twenty steps
West Grand Ave
With their battalion of metallic
they’ll take away

They’ll take away touch
They’ll take music
which is when
I‘ll stand up
and walk toward you
and offer a few fingers
for you
to lead me
to an empty floor
and sway
They’ll take the light
They’ll confiscate
my teeth
and leave
the knives with no handles

They take it
all away
They take away
weeping and
take away laughter
Not last to go
are the goats

as if
I could forget
the curses
And Ha-Haaaaa!!
they’ll take
my eyes
and they won’t even eat them!

They have taken
so much
I am standing
at the end of a road
which leads to a beach
beside a sea
that a million ghosts
keep crossing

leaving everything
I once had
I’ve become
everything electric
in a muscle
to make one
move again toward
The Beautiful

in that wacky wandering
in that bloody
in that smoky
of a quarter century
in that ambling
in that sprint toward
every gorgeous
living thing
no matter
how tortured
or peaceful
I am going
I am almost completely gone
I am stepping away
Watch me
as I leave
the forks
I leave
the hammers

I leave
the bones
I am left
with love
I leave

the boiled coins
the thin shells
of swans
I am left
with love I leave
the latches and bolts
I am left again

and again
with love
I leave
I leave
and I am
again and again
and I can’t seem to shake it
the rage leaves me
and leaves me
again and again
and love is left
it is all
that is ever
and today

I am blessed
I am the last thing


                                                         Photograph by Margarita Corporan


Patrick Rosal is the author of four full-length collections of poetry, including his latest, Brooklyn Antediluvian, which was a finalist for The Kingsley Tufts Award for Poetry. A former Senior Fulbright Research Fellow, his work has appeared in The New York Times, Grantland, Harvard Review, Tin House, The Best American Poetry and dozens of other magazines and anthologies. He has been a featured performer in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean and hundreds of venues throughout the United States. He is a 2017 Guggenheim fellow and Associate Professor at the MFA Program of Rutgers University-Camden.