Death smells like honey here,
melted in the rotting coast live
oak, stinking of cinnamon,
and lemony eucalyptus leaves
lying uncensored together in state.
Death tastes like the soft fur of a field mouse
in the tight grin of my cat
who has leapt up from outside onto the sill
to please us, smearing small blood
onto the cold glass.
Death feels like the bone shard
in my small toe, shivering, flashing
gentle electrical pain into my shoulders,
my calves, my earlobes, nailing me
to the hard wooden floor.
Death sounds like the long in-drawn breath
my daughter took when she backwards flipped
off the sofa onto the brass lamp base, silence
lasting longer than her animal screech.
Death looks like nothing I know, everything
I am turning into, my body degrading
into entropy, into apathetic skin flakes,
into the smell of armpits,
the taste of mold on nectarines,
the sound of bone cracking on wood,
the feel of these keys on calloused tips,
tipping me to the fact that death and I
will be playing poker in the caboose
for high stakes in no time soon.
by Paul Totah, July 1, 1997