Death Responds to Mr. Donne

I have heard many silly taunts
in my extensive time,
and they are never more clever
just because they rhyme.
Ignorance should whisper
like a muffled chime.

I am not proud
though you are too proud to see
that the Grand Bungler
who created you also created me.

I am not mighty or dreadful—
do not overthrow.
Those are your birthmarks.
You are your foe.

Poison and war are a scaly brood
for which I have no need.
They hatched in the same nest as you,
and you are the fodder on which they feed.

Chance is a monkey
whose mischief ends at the tomb.
Fate and sickness are encrypted
when you're in the womb.

You are the slave
of desperate men and kings,
who look like lice to me—
or other insects without wings.

I am a lantern at the end of your day.
I am not the Magnificent Fumbler,
who gifted you with feeble DNA.

I bring peace after you have done your worst,
and while I may eventually die,
you will die first.

by James Reynolds

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James Reynolds lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and is a member of Valley Writers in Roanoke. His work has been published in Ariel Chart and will also appear in upcoming editions of The Broadkill Review, Scarlet Leaf Review, and Lighten Up Online.