Image by JamesDeMers from Pixabay

What do you do in a cemetery?

We turn off Beach Blvd. and head down
The veiny asphalt no one feels quite
Comfortable cruising on, dotted
As it is with all the unattended
Corpses who, each day, sink a little lower
Until they rest on the pipes that carry
Our water and shit. When is it ever not
Windy here? Trees and flowers I cannot name
Shrug effortlessly against their shadows,
Dumb to the reasons they’re given. One card still
Vainly attempts to suggest “Happy Easter,”
And when I point this out to my father
He says “Unless it’s for a child,” so
I don’t say any more about it.

The breeze picks up. It always does,
A gimmick of the dead trying to seduce
Us into the delusion of afterlife, though
I feel bad for never remembering
Where exactly she is, scanning names
Like any old index—Laughton, Knopf,
Vu, Smith. He finds it first and signals to me
And we pull the same strands of grass we pulled
Last time, him fiddling with the built-in urn,
Me brushing off the marble and picking
Out clumps of dead insect matter.
There is something to this labor—
The articulations of hands
And sweat, the brief ritual of water
Swelling flowers. Flowers do look better
In water. They catch the same breeze
The others have, leaning towards their own
Unintelligible conclusion.

I’ve drawn mine. I’ve decided
On the day that I become
Too weak to hold my glass,
To lift any morsel of thought,
Regardless of appetite, to my mouth;
On the day the air refuses itself,
And the light withdraws its glad tidings,
And the fistfuls of ambitions drag
Their forty banners somewhere else,
I’ve decided I will think of this place,
And of these people my father and I are
Pretending to be right now,
Whoever they are in the terminal end of my life,
Hovering over my own hyphenation,
Performing their same, ancient rite of
Useless archaeology—
I will think of this place
And wonder what they could possibly
Be doing here?

Jordan Potter is a writer and actor from Huntington Beach. He operates the poetry film studio, Blank Verse Films, with his partner, Mike Gioia.

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