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Question MarkI wrote this poem the day after I received news my good friend and author Jack Foley took his life. As always with my writing, the words do not lend justice to Jack, my heartsickness at his death, nor the larger, emotional picture I attempt to paint.

I must say, weeks later, that getting to be a part of Jack’s 86 years on this earth was a treasure. More so, the time I spent with this man defined a bond. Jack was good for me. My company published his book about growing up in western Florida in the 1930’s.

This man, who captured life in such poignant, fun, southern dialect prose, left life in such an abrupt manner that I still reel at the loss. Jack meant a lot to me. Whenever he ordered more books, I delivered them to his house.

The reason was selfish. I wanted to hang out with Jack, listen to his stories, and soak up some of his wisdom. I felt a connection with this man. His book is a gem, but his life was more so.

Again, this poem does little justice to what I think, feel, and understand about Jack and what happened. But even in its imperfection, there are truths of raw emotion, and questions I need to answer…

Final Measure

You cheated.
Left me here. Alone.
Robbed at gunpoint.
Crushed by friendship yanked away in an instant

You cheated.
Those who loved you suffer.
Anger matched only by pain.

I soften.
What must have poured through your heart.
What calamity brought this on?
Questions buried with your book and memories.

I cry.
I lose. Everyone loses.
What did you strive to gain?

You chose.
Paths get strolled each day.
This path’s been done before.
This choice leaves a bitter taste in everyone’s heart.

I learn.
Discovery sucks.
A piece of me went with you.
Unavoidable and I’m sure, unintended.

I mourn.
This is one you don’t forget.
No distractions will quite cover the loss.
Llifeline tethered to my troubled heart – snipped.

I understand – too well…
Despondency eats the soul like a rabid cancer.
Engulfing. Overwhelming. Undefeatable.
Understanding lends more fear than hope.

Yet I hope.
Only that I recover. Selfish, but true.
Not that closure will ever occur.
Loss is the last entry on this ledger line…