Thursday, February 7, 2013

death be not incarnate

Here starts some posts in which I share previously published poems which have only appeared in print until now.

Death Be Not Incarnate

Death be not incarnate.  Be proud as you will
But not with puffed chest or fanned plumage.
Carry no sickle across the threshold, be no
Pestering crow.  Death do not assume

A shadowy form.  Do not even reek of anything—
Neither pleasant nor foul.  Be terrifying
As you will, but be so invisibly.  Silently.
Odorless as the soul.  To come in the flesh

Would be obnoxiously rude.  To mock the systems
Of solid biology.  You are circulatory already,
Digestive enough as things are.  Leave endocrine
And arteries alone.  Leave us our defecations.

Breathe not icy breath.  Whisper not dooms,
Tickling ears.  Slink and steal, as you will—
Leave a wake of carnage but be not incarnate.
You have emissaries aplenty.  Ambassadors

Wrought of real stuff.  They are the flatline
On the vitals screen, the blooming celosia
On the shirt of the bullet-shot.  They are the chalk
Outlines of defenestrated discontents,

They are cross and chair and needle.
So Death be proud—you’ve earned your laurel,
Outpaced our pumping organs.  Only spare us
Your hooded robe.  Leave us our carbon copies.

 (first published in The Louisville Review No. 72, Fall 2012)

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