quiet, old man

by Gabriel Ricard

A lot more people are having
funerals on rooftops now.

Everything is more somber
when you’re twenty stories above
Tuesday’s murder scene
becoming part of the culture by Thursday.

Cemeteries are old hat.
It’s all about the preacher-man trying
to scream over the airplanes and riot squad helicopters.
It’s bumping the top of your head on some of the worst
weather to ever hit you so far above sea level
and so far-gone into the wild unknown.

Graveyards belong to cigarette smokers.
The departed are going to need something special
if the casket is going to have any homerun chances
on the strength of massive angel wings and organized prayer.

It’s been nothing but good business
for those bargain-basement kids who like to blow shit up
and think the sun is just a big high school showoff.

The moment of silence alone is staggering.
Even a couple of California earthquakes couldn’t
break what a dozen or more people manage to create
and hold onto for fifteen
or even,
get this,
twenty whole minutes of their lives.

A hurricane would just hang trees and cars
in the air like weird paintings on invisible hangnails.

When it’s all over,
when the casket is going, going (get the history books ready)
gone (and that’s the ballgame, ladies and gentlemen),
the rest of your life is just a matter of flexible free will.

The guilt-free suicide rate has remained largely
and surprisingly
unaffected by what all of this does
to a mourner’s mindset.

there have been reports from reliable
text message services about people
who just won’t leave the rooftops.

They stay there for days and days,
apparently quite taken with something
that they can’t describe and therefore
won’t waste their precious time trying to.

They get sickly and irritable,
and the police eventually have to be called
to take them away.

They still seem pretty satisfied overall
with how everything went.


Posted on 07/28/2009
Copyright © 2022 Gabriel Ricard

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by A. Paige White on 07/29/09 at 04:12 AM

It's so good to see you posting again, Gabe! It was Tuesday evening by the time I was tangled up in the second stanza enough to realize we weren't altogether out of the risk; it's not yet midnight. Just fantastic stuff. Welcome back darlin! I've missed you.

Posted by Ken Harnisch on 07/29/09 at 01:30 PM

Stunning imagery, wonderful insights..a complete triumph and a well-honed welcome back!...I applaud even now, Gabriel

Posted by Charlie Morgan on 07/29/09 at 04:12 PM

...classic Gabe! so many cute/wonderful twists in this i was grinning...you are joined by the Garth Hill who, himself, is a wordician, a mechanic with a pencil...good 'un.

Posted by Michael Smith on 07/29/09 at 08:10 PM

I really enjoyed the lines: "A hurricane would just hang trees and cars / in the air like weird paintings on invisible hangnails".

Good read, Gabriel. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by Bruce W Niedt on 08/01/09 at 07:14 PM

Welcome back, man. Trippy and unsettling take on funerals. Lots of great lines, usual, but for some reason the image of bumping one's head on bad weather on the rooftop really grabbed me.... d:-)

Posted by Sarah Wolf on 08/02/09 at 02:57 AM

Ricard it is so good to hear one of your stories again. I have missed them... as I missed you. Glad you are back :)

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