Obituary Generator

[Person] died alone and in the morning, surrounded by strangers who catalogued every blemish. Family arrived to confirm the location of each freckle. She was born in [Somewhere City] and died nearby. She is survived by [Someone] and [Some Other] and they’ve already began forgetting, whether they know or not. She never wore collared shirts because they reminded her of her head’s attachment to her body.   [Person] died in the afternoon but did not live comfortably past the morning. Their family did not know them and neither do I.  [Person] died in his two-car garage next to one car. [Person] liked his cars and his garage very much. He is survived by two cars nestled still in their garage. They cannot visit his grave.  [Person] died alone. He had brown eyes that needed glasses. He was born on a farm and dreamt of it. He wore t shirts ordered from Facebook generated by an algorithm & printed at an office and shorts covered in pockets to fill with peppermint patties for their [Person]. [Person] drank chocolate Pedialite as his only nutrient but constantly craved purple grape juice in the end.


Related Poems

René Descartes and the Clockwork Girl

In man, it was written, are found the elements
and their characteristics, for he passes
from cold to hot, moisture to dryness.
He comes into being and passes out of being
like the minerals, nourishes and reproduces
like the plants, has feeling and life
like animals. His figure resembles the terebinth;
his hair, grass; veins, arteries; rivers, canals;
and his bones, the mountains.

Then the vascular system was discovered.
Pump and pulley replaced wind and mill
sweeping blood down those dusty roads.
And Descartes, the first to admit
he supposed a body to be nothing
but a machine made of earth. Mere clockwork.
He found this a comfort because
you can always wind a machine back up.

The Chimera was a clock in the form of a leviathan,
Memento Mori was the shape of skull.
Spheres and pendants, water droplets and pears.
Milkmaids tugging udders on the hour.
Some kept time using Berthold’s new equation,
some invented the second hand. The Silver Swan
sits in a stream of glass ripples and gilded leaves,
swallowing silver-plated fish as music plays.

After Descartes’ daughter died,
he took to the sea. They say he went
so mad with grief he remade her
as automaton. A wind-up cog and lever
elegy hidden in the cargo hold.

He said the body is a machine
and he may well be right about that.
But when she was so hot with fever
she could not breathe, and then so suddenly cold,
he held his fingers on her wrist and felt
only his own heart pumping. All the wind
and water of a daughter became a vast meadow
that has no design and no function
and there is no way beyond that stretch of grass.

Grief, the sailors said, is a hex
and contagion and it will draw the wind
down from the sails. It will stopper
in the glass jar sitting like a heart
in the chamber of a mechanical girl
with mechanical glass eyes. On a ship beleaguered
by storm, they ripped open the box
with a crowbar to find the automaton
Descartes called Francine because he missed
saying her name. They threw her into the wake
and his face became a moon in the black
deep, each wave lapping it under.

He supposed that if you thought hard enough
you should be able to understand,
for example, how a stick would refract
in water even if you had never seen a stick
or water or the light of day. By this means,
he said, your mind will be delivered.

If you think hard enough, you can light a fire
in the hearth. Your child can press herself
against your knee and snug her shoulder into yours
as you wind the clock of a girl like and unlike her,
who can walk three remarkable skips and blink
and curtsy politely before ticking down.

It may be there is no wind blowing
blood through the body, but, arm around her,
you feel how she flushes with fiery amazement
as she puts her little hand over her own
cuckooing heart, because this is what we do
when Papa has taken our breath away.

OBIT [The Blue Dress]

The Blue Dress—died on August 6,
2015, along with the little blue flowers,
all silent. Once the petals looked up.
Now small pieces of dust. I wonder
whether they burned the dress or just
the body? I wonder who lifted her up
into the fire? I wonder if her hair
brushed his cheek before it grew into a
bonfire? I wonder what sound the body
made as it burned? They dyed her hair
for the funeral, too black. She looked
like a comic character. I waited for the
next comic panel, to see the speech
bubble and what she might say. But her
words never came and we were left
with the stillness of blown glass. The
irreversibility of rain. And millions of
little blue flowers. Imagination is having
to live in a dead person’s future. Grief is
wearing a dead person’s dress forever.


Why cannot the ear be closed to its own destruction?
—William Blake

Won’t come alive ever yet or again? In the mind of Endtime it looks like this: shell, volute, Tabriz, eddies, and tides. Flowers wilt. When you wake, observe the unmitigated trials and tribulations of these tossed things, random it seems. But in the endtime, less personhood more ransom. Radical sleep in the Endtime, there is no end of sleep. Multiplying the stars was never easy in Endtime, doing it by themselves, obstinate stars. Self-repairing and learning on the job. Write reports, sniff out plagiarism, fly your planes with a computer. Drones inhabit the Endtime lore, how many kills. In Endtime things go static. Then still. Switch off “solace.” Would you kill another literary form? a ransom note perhaps, saying again: The dead always will be saying too many of us! Then carry the corpses around. In the mind of the Endtime no substitutes but if you care to try your hand you may gamble all you have to offer and what would that be. A mole might do for you, a burrowing animal “thing” might do, biding time might do for a time, a night perhaps you have for rhetoric, before you are released at dawn. Recant, reflect, review, reach out. We have met the enemy and it is the psychotic karmic flow of our blowback. Privileged community survives a raging flood. Maybe. You keep churning and there’s an echo in the world. In the Endtime no need of explanation. Need stronger better experienced cop? He’s a baby. In the Endtime there are theories of dysfunction, delicate wheelworks that need retread. In the mind of the Endtime scot-free isn’t possible. No interpretation necessary for your cargo. But tax and a search and a fee and a calibration what it all adds up to. Then drop it. Drop it down, send it off, may it disintegrate in peace.