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atomic lemon drops #5: grim reaper

11/30/12 , , , , , , ,

the inspiration: “write a poem that describes what’s happening in a picture and what might happen after the frozen moment.” check out what i did with it below as well as some background on the piece. per usual, put any questions/critiques related to the poem in the comment section and i’ll get back to you.

Grim Reaper

Here he is, in front of his Mom’s house
on the East Side. Skull shrouded by
baldness. Lips protect a one-tooth smile.
In his lap, a baby boy. To the left,
oldest girl Carlel. Middle kid in
the background.

He looks up into the black-and-white Thursday,
wishing that Mr. Carson would finish that
Tylenol or Jamal would just OD on Pride.
(Bodies go for $14 in Detroit these days).

At night, you can find him on the same
porch. Same white chair, same baby boy.
Sharing work stories with neighbors,
like the one about the old woman
found naked on her toilet—

And I was like “Lady, what happened to you?”
But she ain’t say nothin’. Just stared at the floor
with those blank blue eyes.

background:

grimreapersome years ago, the nytimes did a series of portraits on “off-beat americans.” one that caught my eye focused on detroit’s mike thomas (pictured left). mike was a “body technician.” if you don’t know what a body technician is, it’s the person who picks dead bodies for the county. from the article:

With all the spectacular ways to die in this dying city, the fate of a man named Allan was almost pathetic. There he lay, in a weedy lot on the notorious East Side, next to a liquor bottle, his pockets turned out.

But as it goes with such things, one man’s misery is another man’s money. The body retrievalist for the county morgue had arrived on the scene. He was happy. He sang strange little ditties. Cracked odd little jokes. Said things like: “We got plenty of room in this here van, yes sir.”

Do not judge him. A happy attitude is necessary in his profession. It keeps the mind from shattering, salts one’s sanity. Call the job dirty. Call it 14 bucks the hard way — $14 a human body, $9 an animal. He said he made $14,000 last year. He made most of it at night.

His tax forms officially read “body technician.” Unofficially, Mike Thomas calls himself body snatcher, grim reaper, night stalker, bag man. Whatever you call it, it is one man’s life.

it’s one of those jobs i took for granted. you know somebody has to do it, but you don’t always think about the people actually doing it and what they might be going through in the process. like just imagine having to wait for people to die so you could support your family. crazy. oh and please read the full article on mike here:

Body Collector in Detroit Answers When Death Calls – New York Times

click here for more atomic lemon drops.

© Carlton Williams Jr. and atolemdro, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this poem without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carlton Williams Jr. and atolemdro with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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7 notes

  1. atomic lemon drops #6: barbershop | atolemdro reblogged this and added:

    […] in atomic lemon drops: grim reaper | dear leader | weekend in jamaica | rehearsal for “when doors slam shut| a poem called […]

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