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Zakzzz5 Profile
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The Mortician's Name


When I die, if the day ever comes,
He said with a wink, I will have no say
In the matter.


Why before the coffin
The memory of drowned boys, youthful soldiers
Dead in foreign wars, why the heart attack
Uncle at the Knoxville airport, why the grandmother
Laid out in a dress she wouldn’t have picked,
A dress picked by a daughter who would not
Have picked the dress for herself.

I will be placed in a plot of land
Not of my choosing. Because I didn’t
Have time to choose a plot. Because
The rains came early that year, and the bird
Took wing early. Because the car wouldn’t
Start, it being a cold winter.

I will be placed nose to the North,
Or uncomfortably on my side by a mortician
With a weird sense of proportions. I will
Hear the worm rubbing against the still new
Coffin. The candle goes out
And I see the universe. Where are the angels?
Mar/21/2015, 6:41 am Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
arkava Profile
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Re: The Mortician's Name


When I die, if the day ever comes,
He said with a wink, I will have no say
In the matter.


The voice here is humorous and grieving at the same time. The brute fact “When I die … I will have no say in the matter.” I imagine the “he” as a friend (a fellow soldier?) whose joke comes back to the N as he stands before his friend’s coffin. I will have no say in the matter. That’s the thing, that ‘not of my choosing’, the N comes back to and must work around. S2 becomes a quick list of incidents where this same loss, loss of having no say in the matter, dress or plot of land, the runs though. Something as mechanical as a car that wouldn’t start. Just like that. Death. Nothing. How to really talk about it? Even understand it? Or prepare for it? Can anyone but the mortician really prepare one for death? Funny and moving. “Nose to the north” was distinctive enough for me to google the phrase and I got keats. Aside from all the stuff with the cold north/ heaven/ journey etc., Ifound myself thinking how much of an animal burial you make it seem. After all, we keep throwing in more stuff in a hurry to forget that our death is as brutal and as final as any of the other species. The last two lines dovetail your prev poem where the N sees angels (on the bedstead?) and also pull together the entire poem to an excellent finish. Seeing the universe. Even at the end, beyond the end, if we try imagining it, we need to see or or at least sense something, anything. To talk of the impossible. We need angels to watch over us or at least be our intentional objects. Even thrown in complete darkness we have entoptic phenomena, we are left with the sense of touch, faculties of imagination. What beyond that? The N leaves us there.

p.s. The mortician's name. Realized I did not comment on it at all. Read it after I was through with the poem a couple of times. Beautiful. Someone has to clean up after us. But even that is unthinkable.

Last edited by arkava, Mar/21/2015, 10:06 pm
Mar/21/2015, 10:04 pm Link to this post Send Email to arkava   Send PM to arkava Blog
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: The Mortician's Name


This is your voice alright. When French Existentialism was first introduced to the American scene, sometime in the 50s, an American philosopher noted that it didn't make much an impression, not to the extent it affected the European scene. The reason, he said, is that the American experience itself has made of Americans existentialists, almost from birth. This is what your poem brings to mind. Some quite good writing, with no slackness in image play. And what a great last question.

Tere
Mar/28/2015, 1:36 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: The Mortician's Name


Starting with the quote and the wink works well. It sets the tone for the poem, a combination of objectivity, humor and pathos. The whys in the first stanza brought to mind all the whys we often ask in the face of the death: why him? why now? why like that? The intrepid N goes on to deliver the mundane, matter-of-fact, happenstance answers.

I like the tension in the last stanza between the physicality of the worms and the metaphysically missing angels. I also like the fact that the poem starts out considering the death of others and ends by focusing on the (imagined) death of the N. I wasn't sure at first about the candle going out. Too much of a cliché? But, no, I think it is a universal symbol and using it is a kind of shorthand. The preceding lines are weird aka original enough for my taste.

Excellent poem, Zak. If we were still participating in IPBC, I would nom it.

Apr/1/2015, 12:22 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 


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