Payless Caskets


by Jackie Joice

Near Carson St. and Orange
deep in the ghetto’s abyss next to a liquor store
The Grim Reaper plays congas
in front of Payless Caskets.
Pedestrians are lured in by
his hypnotic percussion
as they glide and slide through the soul detector.
One by one, they’re sized up
by the owner who wears a top hat
and cloaked in tomato red.
The owner serves spiked raspberry punch
with complete orders of discount
One by one, males and females are sized up while
standing next to rows of caskets
stacked like high school benches.
One by one, they’re sized up
as their identities are sucked up by an air conditioner
and scattered like pink confetti at a gay parade.
One by one, their bones destined to be in velvet drawstring
bags, engraved, and traded for money.
One by one, they’re intoxicated with past life visions
their futures are billed as they make final decisions
to lie in musty earth forever.

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