For Ambrose Bierce on his birthday


The only death I want is one
that maybe never really happens
like yours Mr. Bierce
the one you maybe had
after you disappeared
into the Mexican desert
or that you maybe didn’t have
because nobody ever saw you die
so maybe.

You know what I mean?

The death I want is that kind
a little bit like hope
and a little bit like a shrug
and which never provably happened
so there’s always that chance.

You know what I mean.

Which is just to say
happy hundred-and-seventy-fourth
if you’re still out there
you crabby old bastard.



Ambrose Bierce was born on June 24, 1842. At the age of 71, after a lengthy career of sarcasm, journalism, and literature, he may or may not have written to a friend that he would be off the next day “for an unknown destination,” after which he reputedly vanished from human ken. Or at least human ken that we’ve heard of. Rumors, naturally, abound.

Image: (retouched) portrait of Ambrose Bierce by John Herbert Evelyn Partington. The image is out of copyright in the United States, and I am reliably informed by Wikimedia that the retouched version, too, is in the public domain.

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