That Final Wisdom

by Jeanne-Marie Osterman

My father won’t drink water. 

After the Dixie cupful

they make him take

with his meds,

he’s done for the day. 

A visiting nurse,

seeing the viscous,

bourbon-color liquid

in the plastic portable urinal he keeps by the bed said,

Mr. O, you gotta drink or you’re gonna die. 


What he’s not telling us is

it hurts to pee and he thinks if     

nothing goes in, nothing 

will have to come out.

The Buddha said,

Let all the flesh and blood of my body dry up.

I welcome it!

But I will not move until I attain that final wisdom.

My father’s body thinks otherwise;

his urethra shrinks to the width of a pin.


Slams cold enlightenment.     

A native of Everett, Washington, Jeanne-Marie Osterman's poems have appeared in several  journals including California Quarterly, Third Wednesday, Bluestem, and Madison Review. In 2017, she was a finalist for Four Way Books' Levis Prize and in 2018 her chapbook, There's a Hum, was published by Finishing Line Press. In 2018, Jeanne-Marie was a finalist for the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize.


February 2019

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