Featured Writer: Joseph S. Pete


The dapper corpse seems preposterous,

staged, inauthentic,

the dark-coated mourner thinks as he hunches over the flower-lined casket,

paying his obligatory last respects.

That rictus is too ghastly, the rouge too obvious,

the face too pallid, too waxen,

the lowered eyelids too creepily doll-like.

In death, the doughy, ashen cadaver

looks nothing like it did in life.

The mourner can’t get over

how the blanched, makeup-smeared remains are so unrecognizable,

how the inert meat sack is so bruised and rotted.

He can’t wrap his dazed head around

how the flesh turns so fetid

once the animating spirit departed.

When he returns to his seat,

the mourner notices the drip, drip, drip

of moist wet blood

falling from the glossy casket

to the dingy, well-worn carpeting

in the dim-lit funeral parlor.

He scans around to see if anyone else

at the visitation notices,

and wonders if he just offered a valediction

to his own sanity.

© Joseph S. Pete

Headshot About the Author

Joseph S. Pete is an Iraq War veteran, an award-winning journalist, an Indiana University graduate, a book reviewer, and a frequent guest on Lakeshore Public Radio. He was named the poet laureate of Chicago BaconFest 2016, a feat that Geoffrey Chaucer chump never accomplished. His work has appeared in Indiana Voice Journal, Prairie Winds, The Grief Diaries, The Dime Store Review, The Five-Two, Chicago Literati, The Tipton Poetry Journal, Dogzplot, shufPoetry, The Roaring Muse, Blue Collar Review, Lumpen, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Pulp Modern, Zero Dark Thirty and elsewhere. He once Googled the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. True story, believe it or not.

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