Mortuary Peace – A Poem

Mortuary Peace

Outside walls obliviously observe
a ranting under the olive trees
of the plaza.
The leaf edges are etched golden purple.

A mortuary peace slumbers in the aisles
of the used bookstore.
I take a book
and fearfully pay
a grim undertaker for a storekeep
whose smile gleams like a moonlit slug.
In haste I exit the plaza
furtively pass the Lunatic of the Olives
who yells at me to beware
of the long wall on
the third day.

At home a closed-minded specter has
taken up residence.
She hates the windows to be left open.
I have named her Gatsby
after that being the last book that she read
(or so she said)
before she died.

That along with her refusal to reveal her true name.

“I would like to be
more intimate,”
she told me
“seeing that we must live together
but we are just on two different levels
of existence you see.”

Upstairs through an architectural
twist of fate
a voyeuristic portal opens to me
past the privacy fence and tall hedges
of my neighbors
The Parsons
and I spy on them through
my bedroom window
as they plant obscenities in their backyard

The woman
is dressed in a low-cut black dress
with pearls shimmering in the sunlight
and Daniel
meekly sniffs her breasts and neck
while she rubs his cock
through his tailored slacks
and domineeringly pulls at his tie.

And all I can wonder
is why
they are so elegantly dressed
on a Tuesday afternoon.

Turning I see my wife lying on the bed
staring at the ceiling
and I think of fractures.
The fractures in the bridge I was on
while stopped
at a red light.
Small thin cracks in the concrete.
Or the fractures in my toast
I made for dinner the previous night
that I covered with butter and jelly.

Or the fractures in our dreams.
Or in ourselves.

I walk over to my wife
to touch her cheek
and feel them
as she drifts away
to sleep.

Opening her mouth I plant
a seed
under her tongue and watch as it grows
brittle silver bark
tall slender limbs
branching into her brain
and roots
digging deep into her heart.
A fruitless tree
with desirous flowers
blooming pink and lavender
in the spring.

Gatsby enters and invites me downstairs
to the study
where she takes my whisky
and pours us both a glass.

We drink and speak about the book I bought
and she laughs at The Undertaker
and The Lunatic.
There is something about the olives
that makes her sad.

She is a colorless beauty
with a soft lifeless voice
and she points
a transparent finger
outside at the long wall
in front of our house
choked by vines
and crumbling underneath.

“In three days it will be gone,” she says.
“But so much the better.
There is a pleasure
for the dead
in the impermanent.”

“What is it you want?” I ask
coming up behind her
and placing my hands
on her hips.

“To feel. The warmth of kindness
and biting taste of spite. To feel
your hands on me
and the jealousy of another
being with you. To feel
and hate
as becoming ghosts
we find a slumbering tranquility
but must bury these feelings
along with our bodies.”


2 thoughts on “Mortuary Peace – A Poem

  1. Joseph, There is an elegance to this poem that plays well to the sombre cello music by Adam Hurst I am listening to. While I doin’t pretend to understand it completely I think it is something very personal. But elegant is a word I would use, though perhaps canticle would do as well. >KB

    • Thank you KB! I will have to give a listen to Adam Hurst. The poem is mainly about isolation, depression, and loss. A growing lack of connection with the world, with spirituality, and with close relationships. Also, I wanted to write a ghost story, or at least a piece with the ghost story setting, in the spirit of Halloween.

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