Mortuary to the stars

shooting stars

The list of the dead in this lifetime has been mostly men. Some are relatives. Some are celebrities. The deaths of stars folded in with the tios, the cousins, as if we knew them too. Tiny Tim, Ken Lay, Carl Sagan, Eulle Gibbon, Barbaro. All dead with health-food-tanning-booth-relaxation-tank smiles on their expensive white-toothed faces. Uncle Bud, the long-lost cousin, the depressive ex, the beloved grandfather, the missing friend. 


Shooting stars who will nevermore kiss-kiss game show hosts on celebrity charity give-away weeks are Ray Charles, Charles Schultz, Jerry Garcia, Andy Warhol, Marlon Brando, Johnny Cash. Bob Marley, shaking the chains of dead celebrity wealth. 


The list of dead in this lifetime starts in the way back machine, in the oak finish black-and-white console television in the parents’ living room. Smart-alecks on live TV, Jackie Gleason, Red Skelton, Jack Parr — comic stars living a moment in the lives of our parents. A half-hour live is better than an eternity dead, that’s what they say. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. And now a word from our sponsors: 

It’s time to lasso the moon, the Buffalo moon, the moon shining bright on our old Kentucky home, the hidden treasures of our Euphrates, the fragile heels of waterlogged heroes, the strumming humming thrumming baritone of Oedipus Tex singing home on the range with his old gal Sal, his old gal Sal rustlin’ up some grub, knockin’ back some ginseng tea and hard cider for her stomach, considering the ease of shootin’ snakes in a barrel and thinking how old Oed’d been gone for awhile. Really good show, Oed.


We now return to your usual programming:


Up the river the pharaohs practiced trickery, invented pantyhose and eyeliner, paved the way for basketball stars and real estate agents. A constant drive for development, growth, growth sprouting greens on Chia men’s heads throughout history. Bigger breasts, taller buildings, continuous climbing on the NASDAC escalator to the screaming steaming roar of modern hard-on circle-jerking mind-fucking progress progress progress.


And now, another word from our sponsors:

Prizes for the richest dead will be awarded someday soon in the afterlife banquet of the posthumous publishers’ clearinghouse sweepstakes. The dead will eat steak, shake hands, and let their bellies fall to earth, manna from heaven. Seven bright squares of diamonds from each dead man’s belly will fall down through the clouds to cling to the trees, to puddle and drip in parking lot lights, to catch the eye of a seven-year-old, who will touch them with her fingertips, will watch them roll down her palm and fall into the ground, where they will be forgotten and forgotten and forgotten. We will sing hymns and paste pictures, we will sleep, we will dip our children by their heels into holy water, we will watch the water scatter brightly off their shaken faces and land in the dirty dirty dirt. We will wash our hands in ashes. Again and again and again.

diamonds, ashes


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March 2007
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