Grist

I had asked him
not to leave
his liturgy on the floor
that’s what we called
the sheets of A4
that had our Dharma words
the things to say and chant
at the start and the end
of our weekly meditation group
he had come for years
but very on and off
spending months or longer
seriously on the piss

he busked the guitar in town
and was borderline homeless
when he was sober
he would go back to running
he had represented his county
at hurdles I think it was

something about my request
made him proper crazy
he jumped to his feet
and thrust his face into mine
“it’s only a piece of paper”
he barked
as he flapped it hard
on the ground once more

I don’t recall my response
probably tried to be diplomatic
what I do recall is the obituary
a few years later
he had chucked himself
under a train

it said he had six times
the normally fatal dose
of alcohol in his blood
at the time

I feel sure the two are related
the disrespect and the death
but somehow it now feels wrong
even to speculate
except to say
I now feel
the meaning of the words
is in the manner of their handling

broken guitar