After dinner, in his dotage,
Horace plays with the candle flame,
watching it wave and flicker,
poking it with the snuffer,
nudging it
to see how faint
it will glow
without going out.
Old age was the terror
most dreaded by the Romantics,
who preferred death
to its indignities, infirmities,
They thought it better
to blaze out like Acer:
aged 27,
handsome and tattooed
with waist-length blond hair,
he OD’ed one July night
in a hotel room made over
to one of his “hamster nests”
lined with shredded phone books
where he liked to party.