your fourth dead body (20180521)

your fourth dead body
lies in state on sunday
on pillars before a home
a house on a busy main street
still sleepy on sunday afternoon
not a funeral home
just a house and no crowd of mourners
but three modestly
well-dressed people
gathered behind the coffin

it’s a few blocks
from that taco shop you want to try

post obedience
involuntary body viewing
the second time
you have been surprised
by a corpse

the grass is green
cut short at the house
clouds part by the hand of god
like god is karate chopping the sky
the opening reveals a sky bluer
than the ache that
lives in your bones
creates a vacuum
the clouds refuse to rush back in
instead the heavens suck the air
out of your lungs

you are too far away to see details
of the face
but the sun reflects
off a brown forehead
you can smell pomade
thick massaged into black
permanently styled hair
what you took for beads of sweat
is mortician’s wax
pilling on skin
that will not ever sweat

you have stopped breathing
your breath has fled
like a soul on the lam

a police car pulls up to the curb
maybe to ask
why they have a body on their lawn
why the casket is open
why the corpse is sweating
why can you smell it

why are cops who have gathered
around the corner
laughing with each other
like one just told a joke

traffic lets you move
and you breathe
and the body in the casket
does not

an impromptu visitation (20170517)

i hear a rustling
like dried leaves
caught in a hot wind
coming from the spare room

i surprise my father
in the act of changing clothes

though silent
he seems angry
mouth clenched closed
like a vise
eyes squinting in judgment

you know you’re dead, right?

next year
he will be one hundred years old
and has been haunting me
from house to house for almost
a quarter of that century

both he and the clothes
are transparent
and when i remind of
of his non-corporeal state
he loses the angry look

though burly in life
he shrugs his grave-thin shoulders
fades away
with the sound of a brittle page
of an old book being turned

Poem 20150711

the lump is solid and dead and wet
when you unsack it

you don’t even pull it out
just let it slide out on its own

gravity does the dirty work
you just guide with with your hands

watch it impale itself on a wooden stake
not that it has a heart

not yet

and you hear it separate from its skin
which you reserve

the peeling off of skin
the baring of red flesh not yet alive

after all, this is eden
you haven’t breathed life into it

not yet

as you take it apart
cutting with wire and knives and fingers

you save the pieces for later
keeping the bits in the old skin

keeping them wet because when they dry,
they are useless shards