“A Bad Way to Go” by Charles Harper Webb

Charles Harper Webb


“Goodbye everybody.”
—Hart Crane, jumping off the SS Orizaba

The suicide-by-gun takes a deep breath, jerks one finger, and it’s done.

The suicide-by-pills pretends that Mommy’s tucked him in.
The suicide-by-razor kicks back in a red, relaxing bath.
The suicide-by-car screams like a rock star all the way into the tree.

The suicide-by-cold feels warm.
The suicide-by-hanging jigs into death’s grand ballroom.
The suicide-by-cop breaks the law that shackles him, and dies charging
            at the enemy.
The suicide-by-jumping starts on a high, and ends at the most exciting part.

The suicide-by-drowning, though, has time to think.
The suicide-by-drowning has flesh that screams, “Don’t sink,”
And lungs that fight to breathe, however much the mind hates air.
The suicide-by-drowning is like a man who buys a top-of-the-line car
            with floating ride and Sensurround,

Its air conditioning cool as fall football, seat-leather smooth as _____’s
            thighs the first time his hand slid up—
A car that, like cancer, steals his substance for itself—
Car the salesman tricked him into, that will cost him wife, house, kids—
Car that, he knows now, he didn’t want or need or even like, and will regret
            buying for the rest of this life.

from Rattle #34, Winter 2010
Tribute to Mental Health Workers

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