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John Amen

A Funeral Dream

anniversary of Richard’s death

Breaststroke through rooms filled with pinstripe suits, blue dresses, cash registers, a Steinway, each black key painted yellow. I found the mortician wrapped in seaweed. He gurgled his résumé, credit cards nailed to the sun, years of betting on bad limbs, bad science. He handed me a silver carving knife, I glided like a violin stroke through watery tons, still searching for the white hero’s body. Miles above us, our angels took notes, sipping their belladonna martinis.


for DW

Hours before the dogs plowed the ivy,
dragging loud summer in their teeth,
I’d been transposed mid-refrain,
bass clef branded on my inner thigh.
He glued a bow into my left hand,
tearing arpeggios from the moon.
I was his sculpture, tableau, diorama,
his failed baptism turned inside out,
my intestines rang like singing bowls.
Cathedral constructed, tablature traced,
he paused in the ironweed, eyes skyward,
stamped his palms into the riverbed
as chains of new light shimmered on the hill.
He twined my last words around his lips,
tuned my spine, skin glowing with rosin,
tongue stretched like a whole note.
My flesh was the red cello, cracked violin,
the whispering viola of his dreams,
his masterpiece wrenched from silence.

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