Iraqi Morgue

Blackened semi-smile

eyelidlifted   turned


rust fur   Can’t get a

fix on


mangled slab of splintered bone

stringy red muscles


Armpit trying to raise

mouth milk,


staring at something great.


Eyes like headlights still on

on twisted steel.


0070 64 F 04 is sad,

he’s looking up to the right

cheeks bulging.


Some are camouflaged, it seems,

with death labels &

plastic label bags

–ears show,

a tooth rip.


Black skin rubble

no eyes   upper teeth

in death lisp.


Faceless,   no, burned to

a congealed

insectile smear.


Shattered lit

skull rubble through which

one eye blasts.


Maroon head skin

tucked up about its bag shoulder

as if asleep.


What am I looking at?

At horror looking through

an 1899 update:

after the lynch picnic,

the knuckles of Sam Hose displayed

in the window of an Atlanta grocery.


340 04 V 04

nearly all blood.


Very old man gray

turned head cupped

in death sheet blossom.


Clayton Eshleman


from An Alchemist with One Eye on Fire (Black Widow Press, 2006)

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