Parris Garnier


I’m not wearing this black suit for looks,
I came from a funeral. I like them—
funerals. I do as many as I can. 
On a good day I’ll catch two;
strangers, mostly. For you it might be
honoring a full life or lamenting one but
to me it’s just another day at the office. 
Easy work—the grieving
don’t drink, puke, break the glassware,
molest girls, boys or do dope or blow
out speakers, eardrums, windshields – brains
 – in passing. They’re quiet
and sad or joyful, but always quiet.
I like quiet. Besides, the money’s good. 
So many start the same: same ’hoods,
same storefront-church-and-hearse
routine—scenery, a landmark to guide
passing strangers out. (How I got in, too—
this business: noticing.) Others discreetly
leave out of safe streets, neighbors’ eyes                                
averted from the throbbing black stretch
in the drive, passing invisibly through
staged care: assisted to nursing, intensive
to Purgatory, eulogy cribbed from the day
The last time I saw my father—
Small coffins leave the longest wakes,
raising huge bow waves splitting in two
wingéd flumes. The shockwave escorts
dread and denial, like cop cars
at the daycare squeeze the intestines,
the deputy’s face like a stone by the door,
He is not here—
Following taillights reassures me, however
briefly—like I belong, still one of you
In this commute. I like the faces pasted on
the windshields at intersections, waiting. 
That’s as it should be, for each of us
deserves at least one turn stopping traffic
with looks to die for, if only in passing.

Date of Birth: November 21, 1951
Location: Washington, DC
Occupation: Limo Driver
Publications: Exquisite Corpse, Wordwrights, Rogue Scholars, Stirring
Awards: Winner of an Honorable Mention in the Junior Scholastic Poetry Achievement Contest (1965)
Other: Frequent reader at Washington, DC, and Buffalo, NY, venues
Experience: Stirring Guest Editor : September, 2003

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