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Since 1996 Volume XXI

Laura Madeline Wiseman


Laura Madeline Wiseman is the author of more than a dozen books and chapbooks and the editor of Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2013). She holds a doctorate from the University of Nebraska and has received an Academy of American Poets Award and the Wurlitzer Foundation Fellowship. Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Mid-American Review, Margie, Poetry Magazine, and Feminist Studies.

The Blue Funeral


To help us let go of our dead,

all the morticians dress in suits

for the business of paperwork:

death certificates, plots, and permits.

You can reach one always by phone.


In ties and wingtips, they move slowly.

Hands cup coffee or lift cigarettes

in the break-room, but fold before them

as they speak of small things like the weather.


These men laugh and offer witticisms

with a softness around their mouths.

Their eyes hold yours, but glance away

to the thick carpet if you do.


The low tones and slight shake

of the director’s voice can be heard

as he cradles the landline phone

to tell someone of today’s service.


Whenever they receive a call, one leaves

the room to listen to what is required

of him. He bows his head and murmurs,

Yes, I can be there shortly.


During a visitation they escort to chairs,

they open doors, and they stand still,

feet and posture resigned

near the entrance of the funeral home.


After funerals, they shake hands.

With lips pressed together in a line

and wrinkles around their eyes,

they meet your gaze and nod.


These are the ones you want near you

when your world has shrunken

to a catch in your throat, the bend

of your head and shoulders as you feel

the damp corners of a tissue tremble.


From Some Fatal Effects of Curiosity and Disobedience
(Lavender Ink, 2014).



© Copyright, Laura Madeline Wiseman.
All Rights Reserved.