Poetry For Our Time

Poetry heals the wounds inflicted by reason. -Novalis

At The Wake

with 2 comments

It’s raining out, of course. My brothers, Ricky and Tom, and I walk across the wet, slick street to the pasty white funeral home. Tom walks with the swagger of someone who not only wears a suit constantly, but loves every moment of it. He smoothly reaches up and removes his sunglasses, lips pursed like he a badass mother fucka, because he knows if he walks inside with them on and Dad sees him, we’ll need to get another coffin for him. Ricky constantly pulls at his tie, his shoulders shifting so much it might look like a dance, if not for the uncomfortable look on his face. We get inside and the rest of the family is there. The children make quick last arrangements with the funeral home director, where the backboard of pictures should be placed, when the casket should be closed, while the young grandchildren, my three little sisters and the one little cousin, go off and start filling in the coloring books. The rest of us move on to the casket, for one last look at Papa. His hands clasp his holy crucifix and ever present rosary. A small bulge in his pocket marks where the holy water blessed by Pope John Paul II lays. His face, though, seems naked without his glasses, his usual joy devoid from the now waxy and lifeless face. i don’t stay long. The kids take our seats behind the parents, who must now face the lines of strangers offering their condolences. Tom immediately starts making trouble. He looks at me and asks, “Wanna hear a joke?” I give him the dirtiest stare I can muster. “No, I do not want to hear a racist joke, Tom.”

“Ok, well there was a black kid, a white kid, and a me-”

“Stop it Tom.”

“-xican kid in a preschool. The-”

“Tom, do you really want me to get your nice new suit all bloody?” He stops. But we all know that we won’t stay quite long. Only five minutes pass before I give up trying to rein them in and I go along with Tom’s joking. I laugh at how the night before, he had tried chugging a can of soda as fast as he could and threw up in the process, Ricky begins terrorizing out little sister Catie, and my older sister Marita and my cousin Joey begin swapping their best drinking stories. For a moment, I worry that we’re being uncomfortable with death, that we’re coping ineffectually with the death that we are surrounded by. But that’s dumb. We’re just being Calderons, Papa is in a better place, and I’m sure his beaming down on us, even if we’re being a little unruly at his wake.

Ok so not a poem and im not even really even sure whats going on with it. i just needed something to write i suppose. so let me know what you think, if you can pry any meaning out of it that i should liven up a bit. I might go into the actual funeral later


Written by gorditodelgado

April 14, 2009 at 3:01 am

Posted in Poem

2 Responses

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  1. My favorite part of this is when you talk about the brothers in their suits. I can see it. Especially the badass mother fucka. 🙂 That’s the strength of this piece, and the compelling part…is that the speaker is there, just relating the events, being a little video camera for us readers.

    I get why you were feeling a little unsure about what was going on with it, but I think you have a good little thing going. The part where it loses steam for me is when the speaker pulls out of that immediate moment and begins to try to “get to the point.” I think if you would just keep writing, keep following the story, eventually it will come out that everyone’s nervous about not being ok with death, and that that’s just part of being ok with death. I think it’s something you could definitely expand in the weeks to come (installments?) if you so desired.


    April 17, 2009 at 3:14 am

  2. Haha, if this brother you’re writing about is the one that was a freshman when you were a senior, he IS a badass mother fucka. 🙂

    I absolutely agree with Chels (this seems to be a theme in my comments tonight, but, you know, she’s good). I was going to say something like that earlier, but I was unsure, just because I know you, Mike, and I know this piece was probably pretty personal. I think what might be the issue here is that you’re looking for a larger, moral “point” to this piece, when the power of the piece really is the detail of the characters.

    If I were you, I’d keep going and telling about the other kids after you reign them in. I think, if you keep focusing on the characters, your moral point will come to the surface, without being forced in there at the end.


    April 17, 2009 at 3:39 am

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