I collect the death masks
of everyone I see,
many ready with their
mouths turned to the earth,
eyes closed tight in hellish denial.
Except for L’Inconnue de la Siene
pulled from the river in utter peace,
lovely as Ophelia floating in the reeds,
the resuci Anne of two centuries
of death and resurrected respirations.
Her I grant the heaven she envisioned,
rescue her from the sterile pummel
of kisses and mechanical resurrections
for the body forever remembers its debt
to the devil’s dance of an aspiring life.
I am an exiled poet like Dante
finishing the Paradisio and Inferno
before the malarial last vision
and stone cold gasp reveals
the world and God as just a trick.
I witness the world pleading mercy
to the executioner before the beheading.
“No, no Madam you must die. You must die”,
is the death mask maker’s answer before
the axe man takes his three swings.
I wonder, like Keats, before the wax
embalms his consumptive face
“How long is this posthumous
existence of mine to go on?”
The answer coming one year later.
I know the world will die, like John Dillinger
in a hale of bullets under a movie marquee,
its death mask ceremoniously displayed
next to its erect pickled member
and the Sheep Child bleating for love.
L’Inconnue de la Siene is a famous death mask created from a Parisian suicide. Her death mask was a popular morbid collectible found in many French households of the late 1800’s and early 1900s. The Death Mask was also used as the face of a popular CPR teaching mannequin known as resuci Anne.
The Sheep Child is a reference to the James Dickey poem about a creature that was the off spring of bestiality.
John Dillingers pickled penis is rumored to be a part of the Smithsonian museum’s hidden collection of oddities.