Michael Hammerle

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There’s Never A Good Time To Die

I should be making 20-25 an hour.
I should have health insurance.
I should have had health insurance.
Instead I’m making 14-15 an hour.
Instead I have a sickness.
Instead I can’t afford to live.
Stage 3 mourning-myself-and-I’m-still-here.
Stage 3 lymphoma
Stage 3 brain-flu-that’s-actually-cancer
I should have seen it coming
but when you’re poor all you have
is optimism—all you have is life
and when there’s no life left
there’s bills.
How a warm shower makes you feel better
my wife will bathe with steel wool
and my daughter will inherit that.
Liquidate me and the glass ain’t half full.
We blame my employer for knowing
that a child needs stability.
I blame myself because growing up I was a child who needed stability
and that means I will take steady work over earnings.
You don’t know what you don’t know.
There’s never a good time to die.
You don’t know that you’d be saying I’ll pull
the trash from the corner of the dumpster behind the hospital
and lick the bottom to see her graduate from kindergarten.
There’s so many basic-human things I want
but here I am begging
to see my child turn 5.
In the back of my mind
is the thought that it may be more humane
that I’m going
while she can only say Dadada.


Michael Hammerle is pursuing his MFA at the University of Arkansas at Monticello where he teaches composition. His fiction has been published in The Best Small Fictions 2017 selected by Amy Hempel. His prose and poetry has been published in the Matador Review, New World Writing, Door Is A Jar, After the Pause, New Flash Fiction Review, and many more magazines. www.mikehammerle.com