Death Before Coffee

I murdered you today—in the morning, after picking
out a pair of navy wool socks from my dresser drawer;
I trundled down the varnished steps and
padded across the fitted oak-slat floor
into the open living area with the stained-glass
windows that texture all the ambiance,
where we had built your sickbed out of
rumpled ivory linens, washed daily.

Your body lay in the perfect center: a paperweight,
enhaloed by a broad wet bleed of fever sweat,
hands crossed neatly on your chest, wearing the
death-edge look that plumbs reality’s cracks.

We joined our minds a time and smiled, before I
pressed my palm over those sallow, upturned lips—
the ones that used to be so blush—continuing,
the fingers on my left pinching tight your nose,
sealing with force your breathing holes,
until your skin went pressure white.

I watched the inner electric arc through your
skull orbs; it crackled and snuffed, as you complied
so politely—first tensing, then limping,
and departing then forever.

I rose and walked into the kitchen
to put on a pot of first-wake coffee,
silted with beams from the slanting sun and
a lingering fug of death and roasted beans.


Of course, you know that you were far
too pristine and pretty to continue.
We could no longer accommodate your
airy grace and big, bursting heart—
which is why I killed you before breakfast,
my bright and frightful dead one.

You ended for the Family, because of that
stranger you so openly invited
to dinner in our home, the one who
used our same language and wore the
shirt and pants of kindred laughter.

Broke bread, we all, with your extra one, until
we filled ourselves hot with food and after-wine—
leaned back in our chairs and enjoyed each other,
as you cleared the stoneware from our table,
turned and dumped it in the wash sink.

That’s when you felt the bread knife enter you;
it split the bowing between-ribs skin of
your back like yielding cheesecloth,
where its slim, serrated plane felt its way
into your kidney with a thoughtful twist.

And you refused a fight then, like now, as
your guest spun on heel with a short
courtesy and “goodbye,” wiping
clean the corners of her mouth
with a maroon dinner napkin.

She straightened her chair, excused herself, and
slow-pace ambled to and out the front door,
shutting it with care behind, where she left you
stuck and bleeding on the kitchen tile.


I let you go frigid on those damp sheets—
left for the better part of the day; you’d
passed through rigor and relaxation, when your
sky eyes glazed overcast with opaque white clouds—
and dammit if you weren’t still the
most gorgeous creature I have seen—
I rolled your empty vessel in clean cloth, and
wheeled you to the back yard.

I buried you in our vegetable patch,
so that you could sleep with folded arms and
delicate hands under the ongoing over-life of
our full yellow squash, ripe red
tomatoes, and deep green cucumbers.

The memory of you will never fully burn,
because you will daily be kneaded into me—
through the harvest, you’ll sustain my body,
becoming one, as we should have been
from the start.

And I hope that you remind me to
be beautiful too, from time to time.

29 thoughts on “Death Before Coffee”

  1. Gloriously evocative and twisted. Full of drop the mic lines that are still running through my head: “I murdered you today—in the morning, after picking out a pair of navy wool socks from my dresser drawer” and “I rose and walked into the kitchen to put on a pot of first-wake coffee, silted with beams from the slanting sun and a lingering fug of death and roasted beans.” Wow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, my friend! I suppose it is a bit of a continuous scene, isn’t it?

      If this poem seems different, it’s because there’s more of “me” in it than usual. I’m glad you got the sense of humor (which I have been lacking for a while). Yeah, I think I’m stepping back into myself—reconnecting with the original.

      This was challenging to write, but I guess challenge is generally more rewarding than ease.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. wow. there are so many things i love about this i don’t know where to start. there is a distinct essence to everything about your writing and everything about you, judging from the resonant vibe exuding. there are nuanced bits and pieces that pay homage to so many things i love, all buzzing about the core of your being. that being a uniquely expressive and trenchant voice of refreshing temerity. i kind of like, love you. but that’s your fault.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aside from this being one of the most honest, quality comments I’ve ever received, I truly thank you. And, hey, love happens when and where we least expect it.

      When I began this little endeavor, I can’t say I pictured my writing becoming so public. That’s rather naive, come to think of it, since everything typed out online is bared and flapping in the open air. I started posting my writing as a simple expression of me, for whatever that’s worth. If I, as a human being, come through in any way, then I gauge it a success.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You are far too awesome for words! Don’t worry about trying to expand my audience, though I do appreciate it. Just picture a guy at his desk in the middle of the night, smoking cigarettes and talking at his phone. That is (quite literally) the fashion in which I gave birth to those recordings.


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