Dale Champlin, Lady Godiva, Collage, 2021
YOU KEEP SQUAWKING ABOUT DEATH’S BEAUTY
Rust Bird beaks Fur coats Firewood Potato
wedges Push lawn mowers Broccoli au gratin
You write about how beautiful Death looked gliding out
of the cobalt blue sky
You whisper about Death’s lullaby lying there in her tiny
You look this way & that side when the waxed hearse
slides by on grease
You raise your eyebrows towards that enemy’s grin
You loll about green fields trolling for grave markers
Your dreams of cliffs & sharks tell you won’t have long
to wait Technicolor yet! With sound effects
You don’t wonder any longer whether someone can sleep
a thousand years
You wag your pointing finger in the cool air coated with
You watch to see what a maggot can do in clear daylight
Of course you are learned The past crumbles The future
waits in a grain of falling sand
The hieroglyphic knife plane pill bridge word . . . . seem
to possess a great calm
Stop Open that door & the back window so you can smell
the cow shit crawling down the hillside
Remember the mother who burped onions at her baby’s
You have forgotten the full glass of water on the night
stand beside your father’s bed
Remember when you kissed your brother?
How cold his lips were lying on that oak & silk futon
How could you forget how easy it is to take a shotgun
Remember the shovel at your father’s funeral?
It was dirty They hadn’t even cleaned it
And the grave diggers? Their filthy beards Their
You could hear their laughter through the smell of
incense as you rolled up the car window
They were throwing the flowers like horseshoes out from
under the green awning
The flowers were beautiful but they were ugly Ugly
Review by Massimo Fantuzzi
Under my watchful eye all human creatures
Convert to a still life,
As with unique precision I apply
White lead and palette knife.
A model student of remodelled features,
The final barber, the last beautician, I. (Anthony Hecht, Death the Painter)
A series of choreographies, interactions, one-acts, temperatures, temperaments and textures, sounds and lights.
Attracted by death’s gravitational pull, every particle of life and every snapshot seem to acquire an additional gear, an added dimension, a tail of sheen coating: everything touched by it seems to gain echo and depth. In astrophysical terms, death, as mentioned in this poem, has similar properties to an Accretion Disk around its black hole. We feel life cannot but celebrate itself, even when confronted with its own demise. Remember the mother who burped onions at her baby’s funeral?
We end with the professionals, the gravediggers, rough and (for our standards) disrespectful creatures that live in the space in between, on that event horizon representing that shimmering dream-like interface. Sporting a filthy, unkempt beard, just like Charon in Dante’s Inferno, their job is to show us how it’s done.