The word hospice hangs over his hospital bed
like an apparition, pales his face with fear.  He begs
to go home.  His daughters look him straight in the eye,
see death waiting.  Not possible, Dad.  He wheezes and gasps,
panicking for breath.

Not surprising to anyone, this final desperate fight
to force air in and out of black, tar-clogged lungs.
Two packs a day for fifty years, to hell with the warnings.
The same old sad song for the same man who bet
on beating the odds, never expecting oxygen to be
the wild card.

Too weak to play on, he folds his hand.