Elegy for Ken Meeks: Poetry by Travis Chi Wing Lau

Elegy for Ken Meeks
*After Paul Monette

sanitary white meant i had crossed the threshold into the
kingdom of the sick where court is held to an arrhythmia paced
to the syllable count of medications dressed in primary colors
the intonation of infections that should not coalesce into
names flattened into names which claim you replace you
slowly with what gets scratched in the remarks of your chart that
i read in secret but this is how you learn a thing by broken heart
a mnemonics of pain tapped out to the beat you set on the
ventilator that i may one day have to silence with my own hands
along with the phrases of skin that go to join dead conversations
flowering in the damp corners of the room more lonely in company
longing for a night full-blooded when we werent afraid of bodies breaking
into sweats but only the glisten of youth replaced too early by the
fluorescence that now crowns you like a debtor for dealing too honestly
in whole hearts and borrowed time measured in cell counts that I track
in my notebook to determine whether im supposed to gather the best of us
for mourning another brother another son another father another lover
another form inscribed by legacies nobody wanted but find on their bodies
when it is too late for cosseting by bedside for that breath will soon extend
long enough to be called a parting a deliverance a grievance a war cry

—Travis Chi Wing Lau

Travis Chi Wing Lau is a postdoctoral fellow in English at UT Austin. His academic and creative work can be found at travisclau.com.