Last Will and Testament of Allen Kenneth Hall
I, ALLEN K. HALL, whose date of birth is OCTOBER 6, 1972, a resident of the city of WAITSFIELD, county of WARREN, state of VERMONT, being of sound mind and disposing memory and not acting under any duress or undue influence, and fully understanding the nature and extent of all my property and this disposition thereof, do hereby declare this document to be my Last Will and Testament, and do hereby revoke any and all other wills and codicils heretofore made by me.
A. Please take all my earthly possessions*, stuff them into cardboard boxes, haul them into the driveway, and with a thick, heavy-duty permanent marker write: THESE BELONGED TO SOMEBODY, & IT NEVER MATTERED.
B. *Take all my books and rip out each individual page. Hand each one out to a different person until all the pages have been dispersed. Please tell each recipient: THESE BELONGED TO SOMEBODY, AND NOTHING EVER MATTERED MORE. (Maybe they’ll congregate and try to put the story back together.)
A. Kindly serve spirits and play music for the duration of my wake—nothing too sentimental, please, and absolutely no show tunes.
B. I want to be buried directly into the earth, sans casket. I desperately want the worms to find nourishment in my body. This image is neither revolting nor morbid; it is perfectly divine.
A. In lieu of a formal religious ceremony performed at my wake, the following 66-point Addendum to My Life should be read aloud. (If no one in attendance volunteers, the funeral director may assume the responsibility.) Please provide photocopies for any attendees who may wish to follow along or hold onto as a memento.
ADDENDUM TO MY LIFE
- If I could sum up my life with one word: DESPERATE.
- The greatest gift I ever received was finally learning how to feel.
- Music is not the soundtrack to life; it is the heartbeat.
- I wish I had learned to play an instrument as a child.
- I always longed to be wildly proficient at at least one thing.
- I’ve been blessed to be in the right place many times in my life. Unfortunately, it’s rarely been at the right time.
- If I’ve ever told you I LOVE YOU, what I most likely meant was I NEED YOU.
- If you ever felt that I hated you, I probably saw myself in you.
- Tell her I loved her.
- I met a fish one time in the Pacific Ocean, with eyes the circumference of a soda bottle. We stared into each other, just floating there, for a good 10 minutes. I don’t know what it meant, but I know it meant something.
- I don’t believe in Bigfoot or Nessie, although I desperately wish that I could.
- I do believe in aliens and ghosts. If I’m right about the latter, I’ll let you know soon.
- If you knew me as a child, you knew me well.
- If you knew me as a teen, you did not know me. I did not yet know that I no longer knew myself.
- If you knew me in my twenties, you did not know me. I knew nothing.
- If you knew me in my early 30s, I’m so very sorry. For everything.
- I’ve been told numerous times that I apologize too frequently. For that, I’m sorry.
- They say to truly make amends means to repair damages, while an apology is merely a feeble Band-Aid on a deep wound. At this point, all I have left are Band-Aids.
- Tell her I’m sorry.
- I believe God placed people in my path and spoke to me through them. The devil, on the other hand, spoke to me in my own voice, which is what made him so damn cunning.
- I used to be afraid to die. Later in life, I was not, and that scared the hell out of me.
- This is the second saddest poem I ever wrote:David BannerHe never meant to wreck the town
Now he walks the road
Only a satchel digging into his shoulder
His hulking past behind him
Like a massive shadow
Looking for the next town
To disappear in
Until his too big heart
Will betray him once again
- I’d like to say I sucked the marrow out of life, but it sure felt like life sucked the marrow out of me.
- The only thing I learned from skydiving is to appreciate having both feet on the ground.
- I believe an infant’s innate ability to laugh is proof that God exists.
- The saying GOD DOESN’T GIVE YOU MORE THAN YOU CAN HANDLE was never comforting to me. It turns out we humans can handle a whole damn lot.
- I never understood why people who want to express that they don’t care about something, use the phrase I DON’T GIVE A SHIT. If you don’t give a shit, you’re likely constipated, suggesting that you’re bothered about something and therefore actually do care about it. Conversely, if you ever did care about something, why on earth would you give a shit?
- I never gave more than 100%. Anyone who tells you they have is a moron.
- I did not give 100% often in my life. The few times I did were some of my fondest memories.
- I’m sure I would’ve given her 100%.
- Women are far better equipped to run the world than men.
- Put me on a mountain, and I am big; put me in the city, and I disappear.
- I wish my parents had lived on a mountain when they decided to have me.
- This is the saddest poem I ever wrote:
MayI wished, I dreamt, came to believe
Belief turned concrete in my hand
Then crumbled into a fine sand
Betwixt my fingers like a sieve
- If you knew me in my late 30s, you might have known me.
- If you watched me turn 40, I was very open then, and you probably left something inside. You may have even known me very well.
- I spent far too much time talking to people that didn’t matter about things that didn’t matter.
- I spent far too little time talking to people that mattered.
- When talking to people that mattered, rarely did we discuss anything that mattered.
- Some people seem able to wear life like a loose garment. I feel like my launderer frequently used too much starch, and I chafe easily.
- I’ve often lain awake at night, wrestling with the following: If I had to choose, would I rather be born blind or lose my sight later on? Is it better not to know what you’re missing, or would I at least be comforted, knowing that I had a visual reference for the things around me? Nine times out of ten, I chose the former.
- I’ve found beauty to be neither skin deep, nor in the eye of the beholder, nor does it come from within. It is a self-sustaining autonomously nebulous force. It is elusive. It is black magic and gunpowder.
- She was desperately beautiful. I would’ve known that, even if I were born blind.
- If you want to read a sentimental story about the destructive side of human nature that will break your heart, find Bradbury. If you want to read a cynical story about the destructive side of human nature that will leave you in stiches, find Vonnegut.
- I’m pretty sure that all people are allotted a set amount of happiness they’re allowed to experience at any given moment. We all have the same capacity; let’s say a total of 10 happiness units. So if you have a sudden spike of happiness in an unexpected area of your life, you will feel stings in others. My life’s erratic peaks and valleys would resemble the lines of an echocardiogram. I wonder what it would be like to have a monotonous flat line of endless moderate contentment.
- I find it amazing that human beings survive. We are, essentially, walking bags of blood, and life wields many pointy protuberances.
- Did your parents receive an owner’s manual when you were born, and read from it to you as you grew up? I’ve always had the notion that everyone around me had a guidebook to living, and I desperately wanted one.
- I’ve been consistently let down by almost every person in my life: my family, my friends, my colleagues. Is that a condemnation of people, or my expectations?
- She never let me down. Not once.
- At my very worst, I am an insecure egomaniac. At my very best, I am a bleeding heart.
- I’ve always wondered if my homeostasis is the same as your homeostasis. How do I know if your status quo would be bliss for me, or vice versa? We both call it green, but what if my eyes perceive it purple, and it’s been blue to you all along?
- I sometimes think I was built far too delicate for this world.
- I learned to be careful when making assumptions of others; you never know the darkness they may face behind closed doors. Blinding, suffocating darkness.
- Since the dawn of time, there have been countless stories, paintings, movies, sculptures, and poems created in tribute to the act of sex. I think hugs have gone vastly underrepresented and grossly underappreciated. A hug from the right person can change your entire outlook on the world.
- In life, I used to subconsciously place everything thrown my way into two, and only two, categories: RESENTMENT and ACCEPTANCE. As I gained perspective, I tried to let go of resentments, and consciously attempted to place everything into either ACCEPTANCE or GRATITUDE. I had hoped to at least maintain them at equal levels, but just forcing some items into the ACCEPTANCE category required all my humility at times.
- As a teen I would question the purpose of existence. Later, I began to question the existence of purpose. Eventually, I simply wanted to exist with purpose.
- She gave me purpose, and for that I was grateful.
- Bradbury and Vonnegut already eloquently and succinctly told us all what would happen to the world if people went on living the way they do. Nobody listened. Is it science fiction if it comes true?
- I had once wanted children, in hopes that one day I could impart on them all the things I’ve figured out.
57.2 I never figured anything out.
57.3 Well, maybe I’ve figured out that there isn’t anything to figure out.
- Out of all the vast mechanisms in the human heart, it is my desperate hope that I staked claim, somewhere in hers, to a miniscule plot of muscle tissue, preferably close to her left ventricle. If this were the case, I’d have a lot of gratitude. If not, I’ll do my best to accept it.
- I like to remember her like this: With reckless abandon she throws a hug into me—her form is somewhere between a defensive back tackling the wide receiver, and a young girl embracing her big brother after receiving the perfect gift for her birthday. Somehow her scent overpowers the freshly poured tar setting in the parking lot. We both know we should tread cautiously, careful to avoid a sticky situation, but in this moment there are no WHAT IF?s or MAYBEs or IF ONLYs; there are no orange traffic cones or yellow caution tape; there is only us, and the clandestine baking blacktop.
- My last memory of her: Her trembling hand betrays the feigned strength and resolve in her voice. She busies herself with minutia, pretending not to watch me walk away. I don’t look back.
- If you knew me in my forties, you watched me change. This was exhilarating—for me, at least. I was bent at the waist, discovering and collecting broken shards of glass.
- If you knew me in my fifties, consider yourself among the select few. You may have perceived my disconnection as a slipping away, but I was just reassembling the pieces of my mirror.
- How I’d like you to remember me: Think of me at my very worst, and know that at that moment, I was terrified. Think of me at my very best, and know that at that moment, I was desperately wishing I were better.
- How you probably remember me: HE WAS A TOUGH GUY TO FIGURE OUT. (See #s 38, 45, 48, 50, 57)
- This is the last poem I ever wrote:
Sweet PolyphonyPerhaps born from two notes of music,
The offspring of a bright, yellow A
and a melancholy E minor,
She comes to me in a new song,
Or appears suddenly in the arrangement
Of a classic composition, where she’d
never resounded before.
Long after I’ve forgotten her face
And atoned for my digressions,
I hear her in intervals and I’m
Stricken with a sharp chord of consonance.
Perhaps the mortal incestuous incantation
Of Apollo and Terpsichore,
She holds the key, haunting me in measures.
Her contours entrance me, and with
Staccato half-steps I always walk back
To her for reprise.
Yet rhythmically sovereign.
If I were deaf, maybe I could forget her.
- I was never much of a poet.
Adam Bjelland lives on Long Island, where he is an English teacher at his alma mater, Valley Stream Central High School. “The Last Will and Testament of Allen Kenneth Hall” was published in its original format with graphics at Word Riot in August of 2016. Adam was a winner of the Poetry Broadsides contest at Thirty West Publishing, and his flash fiction will be featured in an upcoming issue of The Offbeat this fall.
Image: flickr / David Sykes
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