(for D. Blair)
By Karrie Waarala
When you died, a parade poured out of your mouth.
Minuscule tubas honked, butterfly wing parasols waved,
a dreadlocked conductor led the way, shrilling
his whistle, stomping his feet in syncopated 4/4 time
across the pavement of your chest, trying to stir an echo
thumping up through the soles of his feet.
The police, bewildered, didn’t know what to make of the
mournful hullabaloo, tried to cross your lips with yellow tape,
but when the drum line burst through, the cops shrugged,
flipped on their swirling lights, and escorted the procession
down your arms, over the steel string calluses of your fingers,
and out onto the pockmarked streets of Detroit.
The coroner tried to close the smiling gate of your mouth,
but a never-ending magician’s scarf of marginalia
just kept bubbling out, guitar picks and drag queens,
circus freaks and preachers, manhole cover tambourines,
all of it rolling down your legs, bouncing over your feet,
clattering its jubilescent way down Woodward.
They say Rodin’s mock Thinker danced a rusted jig that day.
They say Rivera’s industry skidded to a halt, workers
and foremen alike peeling off their grey painted hats.
They say, for a moment, the air was made of music.
Karrie Waarala earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the Stonecoast program at University of Southern Maine. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Iron Horse Literary Review, PANK, Arsenic Lobster, The Orange Room Review, two national poetry slam anthologies, and on a coffee shop floor in Arizona. Karrie recently debuted her one-woman show, LONG GONE: A Poetry Sideshow, which is based on her poems about the circus. She really wishes she could tame tigers and swallow swords.