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After Hearing a Radio Announcement

yesterday, in new york city
the gravediggers went on strike
& today, the undertakers went on strike
because, they said, of the overwhelming
number of corpses
stretched out on tables
in the overworked, embalming rooms
(unnecessarily, they said, because of wars
& plenty stupid killings in the streets
& et cetera & et cetera, et cetera)

sweating up the world, corpses
propped up straight in living room chairs
ensconced at dinner tables, jamming up cars
on freeways, clogging up rivers, stopping up elevators
grinning toothless in stairwells
taking up kids' space in front of tvs
standing in line for bank tellers
stinking up bedrooms
in the gutters, dead as rudders
corpses, everywhere you turn

& the undertakers said they were being overworked
with all this goddamned killing going on
said they couldn't even enjoy all the money they was making
like a bandit, said that this shit has got to stop

& today eye just heard, on the radio, that
the coffin makers are waiting, in the wings, for their chance
to do the very same thing, & tomorrow & if things keep going
this way, eye expect to hear of the corpses
themselves, boycotting death
until things get better
or at least, getting themselves
together, in some sort of union
espousing self-determination, for better
funerals & burial conditions, or something
extraordinarily heavy & serious, like that

Written by Quincy Troupe


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