Dr. David Axelrod
by Best Poem
First Cousin to Die
You were my second oldest cousin
so, little as I was, I only understood
in snippets why you threatened
to kill yourself at college. My uncle
would run to save you, not knowing
he was part of the problem. You were
the first cousin I heard whispers of,
daughter of a Puritanical father and
a genius-if-under-achieving mother.
They forced you to marry
to keep up appearances;
bony more than beautiful,
different not just smart. But you
knew Christopher Street
and the Village were more you
than a small New England town.
When you divorced you finally
declared that you loved women.
Now cousin, you are a model
for us all to live on our own
terms, even as you’ve given
us lessons on how to die.
Dr. David B. Axelrod, Suffolk County, Long Island’s Poet Laureate, has published in hundreds of magazines and anthologies. He is the recipient of three Fulbright Awards including his being the first official Fulbright Poet-in-Residence in the People’s Republic of China. His eighteenth and newest book is DECIDUOUS (AhadadaBooks, Toronto and Tokyo, 2008). Visit his website at http://www.poetrydoctor.org. Dr. Axelrod also maintains a website at www.writersunlimited.org/laureate where he offers his services to the public.