John Solt


              for Khun Na

THE FUNERAL


the price for this poem
was too high
someone had to die

-------------------------

bittersweet

the new baby
is passed around
at his aunt's funeral

-------------------------

she drowned at thirty three
in a lifetime of sorrow
and three inches of water

-------------------------

go ahead and jump
you ain't got a clue
evangelical!

-------------------------

the chickens here
walk around
as if they never
heard of "bird flu"

-------------------------

bunless burgers
meatless burgers
hold the mustard
hold the mayo
just give me an empty one

-------------------------

the first night
just an old blanket
on the corpse

the second night
a coffin with lights
and flowers

the same sadness
disbelief
that she's dead

-------------------------

the police in costume
played themselves
when they broke up
the carnival

-------------------------

his hairlip
worshipped symmetry
and synchronicity

-------------------------

hours before the chanting
a string was strung
from the sutra to the deceased

-------------------------

who said
"here today
gone tomorrow"

and where are
they now?

should've been
clearer

"here yesterday
gone today"

-------------------------

moths swarm furiously
at the funeral lights
invigorating death
with flickering

-------------------------

one of the five monks
left his cushion and sat
with the mourning family

-------------------------

aging is
sighing

-------------------------

the sutra reading
gave dignity
to her mysterious
death

-------------------------

a three year old boy
runs up to the coffin
"auntie, wake up
wake up!"

he asks
"why is she sleeping so long?
why is she
in a box?"

-------------------------

he talked about
stopping genocide
with a casino tone of voice

-------------------------

the old people
mentioned
her saintliness
because she passed
quickly
unchanged smooth skin
and not a drop
of blood

-------------------------

THE CREMATION


the three girls
got new clothes
for their mother's
cremation

-------------------------

it's saddest
for the young ones
who don't
yet realize
how sad
it is

-------------------------

the monks
arrive for the cremation
in a wire netted truck
usually for chickens
or deporting aliens

-------------------------

the music is guilty
of welling up
an infinite sadness

-------------------------

for some the cremation
is an occasion
to show gold jewelry
against black clothing

-------------------------

his manliness
made him weep
like a woman

-------------------------

everyone wants a cremation like hers
but who is willing to die for it?

-------------------------

firecrackers explode
while the coffin
is carried from house
to temple

-------------------------

the saint says
"go ahead
and burn me"

-------------------------

the oldest monk
can afford to show up late

makes up for it
downing a soft drink
with gusto

-------------------------

during the sutra chanting
the hiss of betal nut spit

-------------------------

the cremation
is a horizontal wire
test of emotions

-------------------------

some partake
from a distance
not wanting
contamination

closer to the coffin
the pure weep
uncontrollably

-------------------------

the monks with the shortest time to live
hold the string to the coffin taut
while the younger monks
let it slacken in their palms

-------------------------

hushed silence
and the crackle
of flames

the fearful
hold onto each other
not to get pulled along
and out

-------------------------

the mother's tears
pour out
crystal anguish

-------------------------

summer heat
coming off
a burning corpse

-------------------------

while she is burning
they throw on
the trinkets
she cherished

-------------------------

peeling away
each layer
to the bone
then marrow
Our World Darkens
Whisking Away Geisha
I Didn't Give Birth to my Mother
Kitasono/Vou Poets
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