On Judging The Death of Another

by Brian Cooney

Montaigne calls it a children’s story, the death of Croesus, his final plea to Solon. Myself, I didn’t hear this one when I was a tyke, and mostly I think today’s youth don’t know it. I do remember the urban myth of the black boy, strapped to The Big Chair, whispering Help me Joe Louis, help me and my dad’s stories of the Brown Bomber, punch drunk and broke, paid by wiseguys to walk them into court. The legend goes that only at the end did Croesus feel what philosophers had always preached: you cannot judge a life until it’s through. Our late stoic, Yogi Berra, said In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; in practice, there is. Today, we have the anodyne “he died doing what he loved” and use it when the diver gets eaten by a shark or comes crashing through the Sol-a-tube. It’s a question of timing really: you are “doing what you love,” livin’ the life, as t-shirts say, and then: wham. Three-ish tons and 20-plus feet of “Deep Blue,” a postmortem report that’s all bite radius and blunt force trauma. Yogi: It ain’t over ‘til it’s over, and when it is, it fits into a shoebox. Kids will lick cupcakes, because cooties, they know, say I AM, like revenge, like pox sent to Europe, like Instagram photos of that last jump, that one last dip. Montaigne, again: few men know when they’ve reached their final hour. Yogi: It gets late early out here.

Brian Cooney grew up in New York and lives now in Spokane, WA. His poems have been published in journals such as Lumina, Pacifica Literary Review, and Parcel. His two chapbooks, My Idea of Fun and The Descent of Ham (alice blue) were published in 2015.