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Jane Ellen Glasser



Introducing Mr. Death


I think Death must be quite handsome,

blue-eyed, formal as Leonard Cohen

in his black suit and black fedora.

Why else would despairing women

be so easily seduced? Indiscriminate,

he courts all sexes, all races, all ages,

innocent and devilish, church-goers

and atheists, impecunious and rich.

All aboard! he calls as his train shudders,

smokes, then races down a mountain’s

iced decline. Nightly in taverns, Death

boasts he’s inscrutable. He may come

like a whisper while you peacefully sleep,

but if it’s catastrophe he fancies, he’ll

steer your sedan into a head-on collision,

or place a loaded gun in your mouth.

Oh, Death loves explosions, accidents,

a heart-breaking climax: your son floating

face-down in your backyard pool;

caught out in a thunderstorm, your

father’s electocution by lightning.

At times compassionate, he’ll authorize

euthanasia’s ride on Charon’s boat.

Packed churches with choirs and organs

are his weakness. He loves to disguise

himself at wakes or while sitting shiva

as mourners dry their eyes with liquor

and scurrilous rumors. But his favorite

settings are the hullabaloo at the lawyer’s

office after the reading of the will,

and the widow’s bedroom, the tear-stained

pillows on the suddenly too-large bed.




Matt Hanson

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