Nick Johnson – A Remembrance

by Barry Wallenstein

A mark on the calendar –
the first anniversary
of when his heart failed
to allow him another day.

His body conspired
against his self
for a too long lingering while,
and then the muscles failed.

“Time to leave,” he would say,
drawing on a cigarette –
“don’t get me wrong” –
“the way I see it.”

His voice, infectious,
inimitable, catches in my throat:
“vodka martinis straight up
and a plate of unsalted fries.”

We’d swap radio bits from childhood:
Jean Sheperd late at night
(so important) and Mystery Theater,
(not important at all) – we agreed.

He left finger prints,
medical bills, other bills, and
the lines that came out of his mouth
penned in ink on paper.

If the cycle were different,
he’d return to us,
put on a clean shirt and tie
and set his Trilby hat at an angle.