He was nondescript, innocuous. He named his dog Dog. His cat was called Cat. He grew daring with his parakeet and named it Wings. He wore beige from head to toe. Even his Sunday best, his “weddings and funerals suit” he called it, was beige. People wondered if his underwear was beige. He swore that it was, but with just enough of a smirk people couldn’t be certain. His house was painted beige as were his roof shingles. His car was beige inside and out. All his furniture was pine or a light oak. When he died, they found a note with instructions on the funeral, the burial, every detail, on beige paper, of course. And they found the beige suit bag in the closet with the rainbow colored suit that he was to be buried in.
SIX FEET UNDER
I remember the afternoon
was cold and damp, with a persistent
drizzle that escaped
the clustered umbrellas,
the sky a blanket slowly shedding
the water that soaked it
as it sat out on the clothesline.
I suspect you would have
liked it this way, everyone in attendance,
everyone shuffling their feet,
wanting to look skyward,
knowing they would see only
a dome of black umbrella domes.
I recited the necessary prayers,
kept a reasonable pacing
despite the looks of many urging
me to abridge the service, but
the rain didn’t care about their wishes
and I knew you wouldn’t
so I carried on to the conclusion.
As they lowered your coffin
into the puddled grave, I imagined
you laughing, knowing in the end
you had this day gotten the last one.
First Published in The Poet Magazine – Featured Poetry
We are planning the funeral
for Roe today, eulogies
fully ready, for we are certain
the death was slow and painful
and now all we can do is mourn.
Some we know will not attend,
Brown out of fear, knowing
the eventual consequences
of this loss, Miranda because
he is already marked, hounded
by those in power, an easy mark.
Sullivan may be there, happy
that he can go after them again
if they even speak his name
innocently or by mistake.
It will be a sad moment, one
we have dreaded of late, one
we thought would never come
and we will mourn our dear friend
Stare Decisis*, stabbed in the back
by those who vowed to defend him.
N.B. As you may know or have guessed, I am a happily retired attorney, who was taught that stare decisis should be sacrosanct. Brown is the landmark school segregation case, Miranda the much eroded protection for those under police custody, and Sullivan the case on defamation establishing a higher standard that plaintiffs must meet if they are public figures. It remains a hallmark of First Amendment law regarding freedom of the press.
Stare decisis is the doctrine that courts will adhere to precedent in making their decisions. Stare decisis means “to stand by things decided” in Latin.
THE TIE’S LAMENT
I still have the tie
I wore to m grandmother’s
funeral, one I conducted,
but the suit from that day
is long gone, and just as well,
for it would be several sizes
too large for the present me.
I’ve only worn the tie once
since that rainy day in Maryland
and then to a wedding
to balance out the sadness
with a bit of joy, the tie
deserved at least that
for standing with me
in the downpour, urging me
to recite the ancient prayers
as quickly as possible.
I realize now just
how old I have gotten,
no laughing any longer
at the old men always
tucking pills into a sorter
neatly marked by day and time,
for I now do my own
weekly, the number of pills
seeming to propogate by month.
I suppose it is time
to begin working in earnest
on the playlist for my funeral.
I’ll be damned if I
will have an organist
and somber melodies
although I may be
damned regardless, but
that is something beyond me.
It will be a long list,
but you can suffer for a bit,
and you know that I will conclude
with my favorite songs
in their full jam band version
by the Grateful Dead.
Two turkey vultures
sit on the branches
of a barren
We stare at them,
to think about
what they stare at,
for we understand
They are soon
chased off by
who we thank
for releasing us
from the funeral.
THE FIRE THIS TIME
He said he did not want a funeral, certainly did not want to be buried. It would be a waste of wood and metal, and its only purpose would be to enrich the mortician and it is not like he will run out of customers any time in the near future. Not, at least, until he becomes a customer and he doesn’t want to consider that. No, he said, “cremate me and put my ashes in an oversized box for I want a copy of Dante’s Inferno cremated with me. I won’t make Moses’ mistake with the desert. I’ll take a roadmap on my journey.”
A HASTY BURIAL
They should have had
an altar, even Abraham
had one when he was ready
to execute Isaac, and the ram
interceded, to his ultimate peril.
They should have had
a funeral, that is just common
sense and decency, but they
wanted no such thing, just
be done with it, bury it away.
I still mourn the death
of science for I know that it
operates without spite, without
anger, with simplicity, making
our world ever more livable.
Perhaps there will be
a resurrection, it has happened
before, although at times
it does seem that it would
take a rather large miracle now.
First published in Pages Penned in Pandemic, 2021
TICK TICK TICK
He awoke this morning to discover his mortality.
This was a concept he had never before
considered, it had never crossed his mind.
He had never been to a funeral, came from
a small family, an only child, his parents
and grandparents still living, not that he
ever saw them, he valued his solitude.
But this morning, while everything was the same,
something was radically different.
He had always recognized the passage of time,
but it was a finite measure backward only,
forward, time was an endless expanse
of possibility and uncertainty, nothing more.
Yet this morning he knew nothing had changed,
but he was mortal, that his time remaining
was not only finite, that was sad enough,
but it was ever so slowly shrinking.
He knew he had to get on with his life, so
he set about his day as though it were any other,
but he couldn’t get the thought of mortality
out of his mind, it was like a smothering shadow
that accompanied his every moment, he focused
on it obsessively even as he stepped off the curb.