Alan Harris, Spring•Summer 2017

Dead Man’s Hat
Alan Harris

I found this hat in the desert
the head it belonged to was nowhere in sight
I shook out the sand
and believe any bugs that had called it home
were thoroughly baked in the sun
along with the previous owner

I call it my dead man’s hat
no need for fancy names
I figured one of us was headed nowhere
and the other headed somewhere else
I just wasn’t sure
which one was which

Like most relationships
it started out rough
fitting snug at first
until after the chemo
where it waited for me
and we became inseparable

I imagine the previous owners
were ranch hands
if not gunslingers
who proudly wore it
100 years ago or more
though the tag says Made in Thailand

Which brings me to an important request
I want you to save the hat
return it to the desert
let it bake in the sun
or if you’ve a mind to
you’re welcome to try it on

Alan Harris is a hospice volunteer and aging graduate student who helps hospice patients write memoirs, letters, and poetry. Harris is the recipient of the 2014 John Clare Poetry Prize as well as the 2015 Tompkins Poetry Award from Wayne State University. Harris is a two-time Pushcart nominee. His work has recently appeared in the Boston Literary Review, The Lake, Poetry Breakfast and The Great Lakes Review. His new chapbook, Hospice Bed Conversations, has just been released by Finishing Line Press.


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