National Poetry Month Day 34: “Death is a Hysterical Dynasty” by Steve Kistulentz


Because thirty days just isn’t enough National Poetry Month for us.

Death is a Hysterical Dynasty

Tonight we shall read from my personal book of lamentations,
sit shiva in a room lit with those overly perfumed candles as thick
as the aluminum bat I used just last week to flip away the possum
carcass I’d found collapsed against the house. Forensics tell us
the backyard is Panama before quinine, an ecosystem
unto itself, civil war of mongoose, snake, and cat. The cause
of the possum’s death was obvious, this near-Biblical dryness
that lasted the summer. This morning I found a carapace,
a palmetto bug in my shower, dead in his search for water.
He got flushed, a Viking funeral; minutes later I heard about
Rocky, 48, complications from a ruptured aortic aneurysm,
who went the same week as John, 47, though by less violent means.
I’d never introduced either to my family, and now I am covering
the mirrors. Pictures from a decade ago exist without context,
the bars in them closed, marriages shattered on the pebbly coast
of installment debt, bands broken up by midnight arguments
dead men can’t recall. Forgive us our trespasses, yes, but also
this literalism. Let us frame the only surviving picture of the three
of us in a rectangle of thorns before we take communion
out in the street. I will let those candles burn, burn, burn,
burn, burn to the wick, Barracuda, then tell you how
I would have laid down my life for either of those two men,
and I have nothing to offer now they have done that for me.

Steve Kistulentz

If you like what the Rumpus is doing for National Poetry Month, you’ll probably like this multimedia anthology of original poems we’ve run at The Rumpus over the last three years. Available only for iPad. Check it out!

Original poetry published by The Rumpus. More from this author →