Tom, you used to stink of cigarettes.
I'd find you, feet up, smoking in your chair
When I got home from work. The Phillies on.
We'd grunt–if that–for a hello. No need
For anything more formal between brothers.
You loved TV, baseball, and Marlboros.
You were the laziest person I knew.
And now you're gone, dead as Harry Kalas.
But even then your blood was poison, your body
Plotting its betrayal with the virus
That, much too soon, would open up the gate
For Death's indifferent agents to slip through.
And I feel like a rube. I always thought
The Marlboros would be what did you in.
Luke Stromberg's work has appeared in several literary journals and has also been featured on multiple occasions in The Philadelphia Inquirer. He lives in Upper Darby, PA and works as an adjunct English instructor at Eastern University.