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Desert Companion

Poem: Drawn Dead

“Drawing Dead is when a poker player has absolutely no chance to win a hand, no matter what card is dealt next.”


First, you were flushed with Embalming’s garish

glow, blood-bluffed, then parched of edema

to be made-familiar by the corpse artist who shuffled

light to blur the waxy sheen of decay.

I had just learned about the color wheel in cosmetology school,

so imagined the undertaking it must’ve been to cancel the yellow

bilirubin of your skin with the same shade of purple

as the Crown Royal bag where I hid my tarot cards

when I was young and still betting blind to be my father’s daughter.

The funeral home felt chintzy, all inclusive, down to the artificial

carnation placed in the coat pocket of your charcoal suit.

Every pit boss & poker dealer who’d worked for you came to weep

at the casket where your mouth curtsied freakish,

but the spatula and acetone could not fool me into folding.

After the viewing, your wife twisted

herself into the red creases of the curtains, until she vanished,

until she was only a sobbing sound.

As if she was still wound in your plum-tongue, vigilant

Support comes from

for tells, still committed to her hand, dealt 26 years earlier. 

I was jealous of the mortician who had dusted your knuckles

with the blushed lie of aliveness — at their luck to have

been the last to wager against your death with tincture.

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