That’s What the Dead Do


That’s what
the dead do.

The ones
who’ve died,

who’ve given up
their lives,

who’ve died for us
so that they say

to us
see here this is

all it means
to be dead —

to be no longer living and
to be both never

and always as never before
and after.

This is all
it means

the dead ones say,
So you die,

and everyone left living
sticks around.

You and everyone
who loves you

and whom you love
take some time

to mourn
with speechless desire,

and unspoken awe,
our long faces and

our sideways glances
(as if you might be

somewhere off
to the side),

here we come
with our living

fruit baskets and
soon to wilt white flowers,

good things

to sublimate pain
to substitute one thing for another

& others pay
their respects

& others have their curiosity piqued
& a very few are glad you’re gone

though would never dare
say so

& most of all most
can’t care at all

and rightly so, everyone
can’t be this faced

with this much
that often

& that’s what
a death does

beyond doubt
one death says

what every death is,
& what’s out of sight

just over the horizon
not so long later,

a year or so
at most,

every one’s up & gone
on to other matters

the kinds of matters
that matter to the living

(your matter’s been burned
or by nature’s

routine chemistry
mostly dissolved) (but you

knew that)
(you knew all along)

finding reasons
to stay alive

finding work first
for fuel

& then for pleasure
& sex &

maybe love
or what passes

for love
& sex

maybe for adding

living human into the mix
for the rest of us

that’re left
& other ways

to pass the time.
Once thoughts

about how many of us
there are

in so much

doing and coming
& going & searching

& hunting & gathering
& using up time

& space
& materials.




An Ant in the Mouth of the Furnace


Sorrow likes itself most when it’s
At its best being
A barrier
Impenetrable. An obstacle.
A veil that can’t be torn.
When beyond its deckled edges
sorrow won’t let you see.
As if you were a blue blur on paper
intended to be a child’s image of heaven.
And it takes more bearing
because more of it is always coming.
And it takes up space where space has never been.
Where there is no space.
Where no space has ever been.
And it will not move.
And brings all else to a standstill.
To no longer be in a state of grief is also a state.
To encounter the respite it is
Is to judge
Sometimes one’s self
Other times others.
There must be a name somewhere
For what’s not there
For what doesn’t
By its aggravating presence
Begin to replicate what’s gone.
Goat in the snow.
My life’s work.
Man overboard.
Black & blue overcoat.
Orange eyes. Bleeding wall.
Ring-tailed neck riverbed blanket.
It’s not
As though
After all
Suits every blue circumstance
As if
— what’s that —
— what comes after —
After which is
Is no other
After afterall
No after other
All as if at
Last all that
That grieving
It is over —
So as to make room for another
You are doing something
With someone who isn’t here
How many conversations
With who isn’t
Able to talk back
Is one human allotted?
Things were only
Like they were
Because we were
Having them together.
Having them without you
Is another thing altogether
Before when
You once were
Here we was
A something never failing
We could
Be counted on
We would
Have always been
What we were
No wonder




Photograph © Annelieke B

The Survivals of Lafcadio Hearn