The Pseudotaph
By Chris Bays

A pseudotaph, or false burial, is an invented word and poetic form that is similar to the epitaph when it comes to tone, which can range from the melancholic to the humorous, and verse, which can range from the metrically bound to the free. It makes use, however, of different subject matter. Whereas the epitaph addresses dead animals or people, the pseudotaph addresses the burial of things, thoughts, concepts, emotions or memories. Although there are no line restrictions, the form appears best when kept short.

Pseudotaph to Mediocrity

Spilled words sucked into vellum,
you once lured me to complacency:
warblings twisted into midnight bytes,
ink destined to kindling. You taught
me scrawls, not subtlety. You left
me gilded reams, paperweights.
Spilled words, burn and smolder.
Here’s your tome:          this space, a tomb.

Pseudotaph to Pomposity

Musty megalomaniacal mutterings …
enough said, we’ve buried you with this period: .

Pseudotaph to a Stain

You must’ve arrived quietly when
I was seated by myself, a book of
poems in one hand, the other spooning
chili. I must’ve missed you as I read,
“Black wires grow on her head” or
when someone bumped me in line.
You became like a kiss denied,
others whispering behind my back.
Well, it’s over. I’ve girded you with
a sackcloth, placed you in this grave.

Chris Bays is an assistant professor of English at Clark State in Ohio. Prior to teaching, he was a world traveler and business owner, having lived in Germany and Turkey and visited parts of China. His poetry has appeared in a variety of journals internationally. His haiku received honorable mention in the Key West Heritage House Robert Frost Poetry Contest in 2008. Silenced Press nominated him for Best New Poets in 2010. His other invented poetic form, the koanpoem, was first published in twenty20 journal this past summer. More details about the koanpoem can be viewed at his website.