Poetry Sampler

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How to Pay Respects to a Serial Killer


A funeral director must have
a way with words that sound
more like silence.
Undertaking is an art form
that shaves the blood-stained beard
of the honored beast
so that the eulogist may outline
his good points to explain why God
allowed a monster among us.

Remember, both mourners and celebrants
would rather be home with martinis.
Don’t frown, but a sympathetic smile
will ensure repeat business.
Today, especially,
keep the service short.

Follow the script and the scripture.
Even the biography of the damned
is told with sobbing compassion.
In the case of a killer, stretch the tales
of good deeds as far as possible,
using priest and rabbi jokes as filler.
Deliver his death with rose petals,
sweeter scented than any twisted
life whose sins are left unspoken
on this his only day of tribute.

Know your audience.
Though so many pour out,
no one dare say
that these are tears of joy.

 

—Robert S. King. First published in Lascaux Review