beauty death poetry

cosmetology class

when applying nail polish

to the fingernails of a corpse

one should apply a single stroke

to each side of the nail bed

never requiring more than this

to prevent a clumpy appearance

the same technique is useful

on the fingers of a living person

literature mortuary sciences poetry psychology sociology thanatology writing

softened fruit

once you’ve been a mortician

you never stop thinking

or dreaming

like one


beyond exposure

to the harshest chemicals

in existence

it is the psychological blitzkrieg

that is the true

occupational hazard


i am plagued by dreams

of having to embalm

my dead since i was 6 father

his features i set perfectly

but his hands won’t take the fluid

they are a sick yellowish color

with blackened fingernails

the fingers spread apart



death is always

grasping coldly toward us


as for the rest of humanity

my eyes see them

as softened fruit

about to spoil


each day

has become a discipline

in attempting

not to think

this way


as i find life

in all its pain and glory

to be worthwhile

and of

unfathomable beauty



Jazz Music poetry Short Stories Uncategorized Urban Legends writing

cause of death

i’ve heard
every bad
mortician joke
a thousand times

how’s business?
bet they’re dying to see you?

and at one time
it made me want
to pickle the comedian
on my embalming table

but i’ve long since
stopped caring about
editorial cringing

and the press conference of
pointed questions wielded

how did you endure that?
what made you want to be a funeral director?
is it harder when it’s a child?
i’ll bet you’ve seen it all, huh?

then come the requests for tabloid photos
gory details
of the suicide
car crash
dead baby

blood tracing
brain spatter
on quilt patterns

the puddle of urine and shit
beneath every body

rigor mortis
livor mortis

(me not revealing
i don’t like massages
it reminds me of
rubbing the wet corpses to increase
drainage of blood
and circulation
of embalming fluid)

ever seen one with a boner?
do they cut the feet off to fit tall people in caskets?

the living are far more frightening than the dead

Réquiem ætérnam dona eis, Dómine,
et lux perpétua lúceat eis.
Requiéscant in pace. Amen.

how many dead bodies have you seen?

it doesn’t matter
the only one
of any consequence
was my father’s

Jazz Music poetry Short Stories Uncategorized Urban Legends writing

still shots

there they go
darting in and out of cars
on I-75 doing 95mph
rain or shine
beneath artemis digital traffic signs
proclaiming it motorcycle season
share the road

“stupid shits”
i utter as i drive

i’m plagued every time i see a bike

ducati, indian, or harley
they all kill you the same

a photographic memory
and having been a mortician
doesn’t mix well

still shots in my mind
the smell of torn viscera and burn
you can’t download online

because a head wearing a helmet
can still be broken at the neck
turning it backwards on the body

a limb wearing leather
will quite easily sever from the torso

you’d be surprised how
the flesh of the nose
the lower jaw
and tongue
so willingly rip from the face
when asphalt is applied

so no,
you half drunk mid-life crisis
stumbling out of the mini-mall
sports bar
in your just for men beard dye
go vroom vroom costume

i’m not interested in a ride

Jazz Music poetry Short Stories Uncategorized Urban Legends

the soft spoken woman in the black suit

as a mortician

the soft spoken woman in the black suit

i learned to counsel grieving families
all of whom had greatly differing needs

to the religious and overwrought
it took little more than reminding them
their loved one was now with god
to offer them consolation

but for the nonbelievers
i couldn’t just defer
to an intangible parent in the sky

i had to mean it
i had to know it
i had to give them something valid

looking into their eyes unwavering i would say,

“He will never again feel pain of any kind. Your peace begins there.”

it was true
it was fact
it was relevant

even for a baby who would never cry

they could touch the cold tranquility
smell the flowers surrounding the casket
knowing their dearly departed
had gone back to the stars

i remember these things
and i wonder how i’m still alive

Jazz Music poetry Short Stories Uncategorized Urban Legends

the casket elevator

being a working mother
takes on many odd forms
especially in the evening

there were nights when the twins were small
they would have to come to work with me

taken to the third floor playroom
of the victorian mansion funeral home

they would watch cartoons and play as knights storming castles

as i embalmed bodies in the catacombs

listening to lou reed and watching them on closed circuit tv

on occasion i would be focused on my sewing
when i would hear their screams running down the steps seeking me

my feet would fly to the casket elevator
it being faster than the grand staircase
and the surest way to my sons

my hands throwing open the brass gate
would lead my eyes to discover
i would not be alone for my ride upstairs

the ghost of whomever i was stitching
would apologize for causing all the shouting