the Journal of a Medical Examiner
Get the unwanted, not claimed,
drunks, vagrants. Open them up,
not really looking for much. Some paperwork,
then topple the stiffs from the table
into stapled plywood boxes.
Job goes well; salaried, no serious
I should spend more time writing letters
I keep making the same joke at parties,
like everyone died. Still bored. White
tile. White tile.
I clean, spend longer on the bodies.
Might as well know why.
Child fell from a tree: death by hypothermia,
complicated by a compound fracture
I didn't need to suture:
wouldn't have leaked through its box,
but I'm the last to see the compliant
I could do anything to them, no one
I'm a fake, just saying what anyone
Dead, dead, you're dead on my table.
I hate them.
Director Sheppard called me into his
not a doctor, not interested in my work
told me, Buckle down!
He said, last December, I wrote
skull through cheek through brain
on the blonde boy's certificate. He's
Sad funeral. Jeff called him a myocardial
Grandpa's not a heart attack.
Tuesday I got the body of a girl
I write it that way, cause of death
Partials, even just a femur, are whole,
Use proper coffins.
Perhaps draw chalk outlines on bottom?
They might like that.
Remember to call Dominic about phosphorescents!
I have been telling an elaborate series
to my psychologist, but he helped me
the only best way to explain death
What specific answer doesn't have holes
I'll never get a live one,
should throw out all my instruments.
The front-office boy is leaving for
In my charcoal suit, I tell Director
I'll assume all work here, on condition
I'm left alone.
(Forgot to say, starting last April,
I no longer draw
pictures on the death certificates,
I write Latin epigrams.)
He has not complained in months.
Finished set of 34 symbols: closed,
shell, box, and linked chain. With new
they will last on eyelid and forehead.
The dead should not go without explanation.
Final entry: no date.
There is no longer a need to remember.
I mix oil and ash, anoint and wash the
As a mark to take with them,
without envy I cut two hairs from my
tie a feather to each thumb.
There's no evil in extremes.
You will come to me, broken and cold,
and I will lay you out carefully,
not cut you, but call the dark words,
asking for you, light, celebratory fire.