Lots of them lying around--lungs and livers and old rusty pumps.
A pump after all, pumping thousands of gallons of blood
every day, every mortal day, a fresh batch courting death
like stuffed birds buried in a kitchen matchbox.
Consumptive girls with little sparrow’s breasts,
baldheaded business men, women dead in childbirth
middleaged men, men with beards, old women, children.
The cemetery is a treacherous place.
The soil fat with corpse manure, bones, flesh, nails,
and shades of night hovering with all the dead
stretched about. So much dead weight always in front of us.
Thousands every hour. Funerals all over
the world, everywhere, every minute--
whooping cough, measles, scarlatina, influenza epidemics,
overdose, death by misadventure, infanticide.
The insides decompose, the skin can’t contract
quickly enough when the flesh falls off.
All that raw stuff, hide, hair, horn--too much bone
in their skulls and the rip never stitched.
The circulation stops. Still, some might ooze out an artery,
burst open, shoot out and rolling over stiff in the dust.
It would be better to bury in red: a dark red.
Much better to close up all the orifices with wax--the loose,
the sphincter--seal up all.
But the shape is there. The shape is there still.
Shoulders. Hips. That soap in my hip pocket.
Never know who will touch you dead.
Wash and shampoo, clip the nails and the hair
and my feet quite clean.
The cease to do evil--God, I’m dying for it,
the pomp of death, the struggle when you shiver
in the sun, in white silence, my heart
in the grave, saltwhite crumbling mush
of corpse: smell, taste like raw
white turnips with oyster eyes.
As if it wasn’t broken already,
kicked about like snuff at a wake.
–Found in James Joyce's Ulysses. Episode 6.
Next poem: Trash Bag Burial