That Final Trip

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

A collection by Lawrence “Mack in Texas” Hall (rated PG)

“The fares are fixed, sir.”
-Boatman to St. Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons

If I don’t give the Boatman Charon a tip
Do I get out of going on that final trip?

Cemeteries are Dangerous Places
“The dead with charity enclosed in clay”
-Henry V, IV.viii.119

A friend wanted to visit the bones of her people
And give their graves some weed-killer and tending
I was deputed to follow along:
Cemeteries are dangerous places

The cicadas droned through the midday heat
While respectful dust covered the leaves
And my pistol remained discreetly pocketed:
Cemeteries are dangerous places

You never know if you’ll end up in one:
Cemeteries are dangerous places

Marketing Strategies of the Nazgul

An email arrived from a dear, dear friend
I was so glad to hear from him…until
Unhappy remembrance – he’s dead and still
And my stitches were torn open again

Some Nazgul program had encountered his name
And mine, and smashed them together to see
If some foul poison could be sold to me
Through a counterfeit, the cruelest game

But in faith my friend lives, as we have read –
It is the Nazgul who are truly dead

The Nicest Funeral That Never Was

The doors of the church of my long-ago youth
Were locked; I peeked through the glass and saw
Huge Peavey speakers dangling in holy silence
Above where the Altar used to be

When friends arrived we pondered the mystery
Of a man’s reported death and cremation
With obsequies scheduled for Saturday
Yes, said the passer-by we asked about it

A Saturday next month, and so we loosened our ties
And over fingers of Scotch we asked our whys

The Morning of the Funeral

Mostly waiting. Coat and tie, Sunday shoes
Quiet conversation. How was your breakfast
Who’s driving the cousins to the airport later
Do the animals have water and food

He’s in a better place now. Have you got the readings
Sunlight slanting to the floor where the puppies sleep
Who’s going to unlock the church for the flowers
Who wants a breath mint. Are we ready to go

I’m glad we’re having a Mass. Fr. Ron is so good
Mostly waiting. Coat and tie, Sunday shoes

Guilted to the Cemetery Next to the Sewage Plant
The dead with charity enclosed in clay
-Henry V IV.viii.121

I did not want to go to the cemetery today
And do things with Hobby Lobby flowers
Made in China plastic $8.95
And floral foam in chemical green blocks

The streets of my youth are rubble and weeds
The woods of my youth are now trailer parks
The church of my youth is a hollerin’ place
For even they have lost all dignity

The soft wind sighs over our people’s graves
The stench from the sewage plant sweeps in waves

Another Student. Another Funeral.

Another former student. Another funeral.
A folder with a photograph and a prayer
No one gave the cause of death – I only know
We’re not supposed to be burying our children

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