Dead Street Rat
I’ve walked past the sad fuck every day for the past four weeks,
watched it slowly deflate next to the trash can
with a soggy half-smoked cigarette as company
and a wad of blue gum cemented in its patchy fur.
How the fuck did that get there? The gum, I mean.
I imagine how it died,
dragged itself out of the subway like the rest of us,
commuting to a 9 to 5 of scrounging up loose, stale McDonald’s fries
only to be hit by a car while crossing the street.
Pedestrians have the right away, idiot!
I can’t believe it’s been four weeks!
I’ve seen this poor, stupid, decaying rat more than I’ve seen my friends this month.
Nobody wants to discuss the dead street rat with me.
Apparently, rotting rodents aren’t fun conversation pieces.
Wait until they read this poem!
Am I grieving this stiff, pancaked rat?
If I am, I've skipped right to acceptance.
I’m afraid it will never fully decompose. In a hundred years some faux
art critics will marvel at the rat that fossilized directly into the LaSalle St. sidewalk.
“Look! You can still see the gum!”
Maybe I should toss the thing into the trash bin.
Get on with my life. The art gallery is now closed!
No one gets to ogle at the latest installation titled: “Of Rats and the Proletariat”.
That dead street rat doesn’t owe you shit.
You killed it without compunction.
Autobiography of an Autopsy
Using a scalpel, produce an incision down my defunct form
and peel back the layers of skin, muscle, and tissue like pages of a book.
Expose the years of wear. A missing spine.
Write in the margins, along the walls of hollowed-out cavities
like cavemen, take note of everything you see:
common flora, mythical beasts, and memories. Please,
scrutinize me. Shuffle my organs like playing cards.
Play hacky sack with my wrinkled kidneys.
Jump rope with my drained veins.
But if you don’t mind, go easy on my brain.
(I like(d) to imagine a little guy, wading through the river-like sutures
of my skull, filling up his mouth with cerebrospinal fluid and nice words.
He’s the poet. I’ve been the scrivener.)
Gather around the mortuary table—all of you.
Find me with the last drops of blood siphoned
from my corpse, leaving it as gray
as the steel stage beneath it. After they’ve zipped me up
and threw a thousand stitches, this is all that’s left.
A post-conscious silhouette.
Did you find what you were searching for? No.
Perhaps you were looking in the wrong places.
Hold on– don’t put me away just yet.
Grab the itchy twine and the toe tag.
Let it read,
This body belonged to–
About the Author Natalie Greene is a queer poet living in Chicago. She is a creative writing student at Columbia College Chicago and has work forthcoming from Frighten the Horses and Allium, A Journal of Poetry & Prose.
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