Alfred Salutin has no friends;
Drinks alone every night, a bottle of vodka on the sofa watching television.
He hates everyone; even the specters flickering across the screen he curses,
Lays at their feet his wretchedness, his despair.
In his cups he screams at his old mother;
She had no right to bear him,
No right to bring him into such a world.
Saturday afternoons Alfred buys the scandal sheets,
Spreads the colorful pages across the kitchen table,
Gazes at the cleavages of the movie stars,
Takes sides in their squabbles and personal affairs.
But what he’s really looking for are stories of spontaneous combustion.
These he reads over and over until he knows them word for word.
O that he too might receive such a cleansing,
Such a fiery deliverance!
But in the end there is no burnt hole in the sofa,
No pile of smoking carrion,
Rather only Alfred, possessed of the familiar flesh and bone,
Tethered in the same tight corral of misery.
Mornings Alfred shaves in the mirror,
Face a fiery Martian red, eyes a fabric of bleeding rivers,
And he longs to be freed,
Longs to be delivered from this downward spiral
Of dead and ever deader hearts,
And then extinction.