It’s okay to die
Standing up
A beetle-eaten
Pine on the slope
Of Mt. Baldy

You’re not alone
One day you just
Lie down in the brown
Needle-hay that was you
To begin with

Failure to thrive
Comes naturally
To trees and children
When the mother smokes
And the father drinks

Mine did both
At the same time
In the blue Fairlane
Driving to Florida
With the windows up

It comes as a relief
The falling down
Motionless finally
To nap inside
Your mortality


Photo by Brannon Naito on Unsplash

Joe Woodward

Joe Woodward lives and works in Claremont, California. He is the author of ALIVE INSIDE THE WRECK: A Biography of Nathanael West O/R Books, New York and a two-time winner of a Los Angeles Press Club Award. His work is forthcoming or has appeared in Brick, The Chariton Review, Carve, Columbia Poetry Review, Zone 3, Passages North, Notre Dame Review, Southern Indiana Review and elsewhere. He received his MFA from Brooklyn College.