Dialing The Dead

By Mark Kraushaar

I’d never call.
First of all, I’d be intruding, and besides
I can see my dead friend with all his dead friends
even now, translucent, weightless, winging
through a cloud or sitting in a circle
on some creaky, folding chairs—
Hello, my name is Peter and I’ve
been dead ten years, car wreck.
Hello my name is Edith and I’ve
been dead a week, pneumonia.
Hello, my name is Frank and I’ve been . . . .

Oh, I know they’d all be friendly but even
dialing later when I guess he’d be alone
I’d have too many questions:
If you’re nowhere now and nothing
is this the same as everywhere and everything?
And, Peter, do you sleep in heaven?
Do you eat up there?
What’s the weather anyway?
And that tenderness of heart we try so hard
to keep a secret: in heaven we’re
wide open, aren’t we?
Stay in touch.
No, don’t.

Mark Kraushaar has worked as a high school English teacher in Vermont; a pipe welder in Pascagoula, Mississippi; a motel clerk in Boston, Massachusetts; a shoe factory worker in London England; a wig salesman in Kentucky; and most recently as an RN in Madison, Wisconsin. His newest collection, The Uncertainty Principal, was published in the fall of 2011 by Waywiser Press as winner of the Anthony Hecht Prize.

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