Lauren Gordon

Once You’ve Seen Anything Die, You’ve Seen Everything Die

Mercury in retrograde 
has us on a red-eye,
lipstick on the fly,
racing on the 101
to get to the empty house,
afraid to ask aloud:
what if it smells like death?

We go first to the room where she fell
and expect fluid, an outline,
not this mess of shredded paper
from the starving dog.

One bent slipper under the bed, unmoved.
The picture frame
she must have grabbed wildly
before breaking her neck
against the wall.

In the kitchen: rotten fruit,
Dishes in the sink,
a blinking light on the answering machine
that porcelain creamer cow
I have always loved.

The coroner won’t let us see her,
she’s “unfresh” – we reel.

We didn’t buy enough cold cuts,
I don’t know how to make her noodle kugel.

They play “Turn, Turn, Turn” at the memorial,
We can’t remember if she liked this song.

Someone asks if they can keep her throw pillow.
Lawyers randomly ring the door bell.
A cousin wants to grieve with the big screen tv.
Her sister searches the closet for a borrowed coat.

Later, everything is Lysol, blank, and on the market.
No one wants to pay, say anything small and true
So we tell ourselves the body is mostly just water, anyway.


Sometimes You Submit

Oscar the cat sniffs out death
in a Rhode Island nursing home
and thinks: life is a confluence of shambling
but not really, he’s just a cat
with a pinked nose and paw,
light-stepping biting-ball of the best way to say goodbye.

Now see the eternal hummingbird,
who flits the window as the couple paints
his bedroom, it’s been fifteen years
since a two by four sticking out the back of a truck
struck him dead; but they see him.

My fighting beta never did a damn thing
about the Northridge earthquake
which nearly killed me, or did he
paddle upside down, bubble like a pipe
sing like a green canary in the still darkness
while I slept?


Lauren Gordon grew up in Southern California and commuted between the San Fernando Valley and San Bernadino while working for the Los Angeles Times.  Her work has appeared in Midwest Literary Journal, Knocking at the Door with Birch Brook Press, Scapegoat Review, Web Del Sol, and has been featured on Iowa National Public Radio.  She holds Master of Fine Arts degree in Poetry from New England College, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Iowa.  She currently lives  in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband.