The Islay Prophecy

The cheesesteak I cooked for him,

Like biting through steel, he said.

I want to live another five years

so the grandkids can remember me.

I saw photos on Facebook at Tres Magaritas,

his cheeks a mine, excavated,

his smile stilled by the camera.

It has been a year—over a year!—

since the suits, shirts, and shoes

given away to close friends,

since the casseroles, late night tea.

His eight-minute drive

he took for decades to NCAR,

right turns on Heidelberg,

Lehigh and Table Mesa

became frontiers and scouts

for the Civil War,

his hospital room,

a rundown mountain hotel.

My son swipes through photos

on my phone. Grandad, he says.

The sharks swim in a luminous

blue glass taller than his outstretched arms.

I can still smell the peat

from the Lagavulin we drank together,

his oak and hay cough, his heavy pour,

like the magazine renewal emails

I get from the New Yorker

long after his death.

I want to email those fucks back

and say it was a Christmas gift,

you fuck, he’s dead I can’t buy him

another year for sixty percent off.


Shamar Hill, who is Jewish, Barbadian and Cherokee, graduated from the MFA program at New York University. He is the recipient of numerous awards including a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. He has been published in the American Reader and has work forthcoming in Rumpus and Southern Humanities Review. He is working on his first poetry collection, Photographs of an Imagined Childhood, and a memoir, In Defiance of All True Things.