3 More Poems by Antonio Fusco

They Don’t Burn Coffins You Know
An extract from ‘Poems About Dying’

They don’t burn coffins, you know.
They’re not just made of wood
and brass doesn’t burn
if you think about it.
And if you think about America
and those enormous caskets they like
made from aluminium. Aluminum:
that doesn't burn either.
It doesn’t even rust—
though it pits with time
and you used to see it on the side of busses
when the world was young
but vehicles were old.
And that stupid film was wrong, too:
you don’t burn so soon
as you roll down the conveyor belt.
Don’t you think that would be
a little bit insensitive
to the grieving family
on the other side of the wall?

I was reading Cacher magazine
the other day and it said
that incinération was forbidden
by the Talmud—
or was it the Torah?
But I didn’t finish the story
so I don’t really know why,
but it can’t be the same
the same as with Catholics:
Maimonides said Jews don’t believe
in the resurrection of the body.
And if you think about it, why would they?

I don’t like cremation—
I don’t much care for it
And I don’t like the body rolling away—
sliding down the black rubber
And I didn’t like his body rolling away
to the wrong damn music.
It just lacks dignity
and I know that no-one will visit us
when we’re entombed in the earth
and we’ll all be forgotten hence
but I think memorials matter
and a little cabinet is not enough
a compartment not enough
to contain you or I
or any of us—
is this all life is worth?
Is that what we’re reduced to?
Rendered down?

And don’t say you’ll remember me
because you don’t even know me
because none of us can:
you cannot hold me
and I cannot hold you
and you already see a phantom
a fiction I composed
and you a ghost to me.

It Keeps Happening
An extract from “Poems About Dying”

I meant to tell you something—
was it something about a car, or politics maybe
some curious artefact of life in French
sometimes opening
to tap it all out...
and then I remember.
Tap it all out.
It keeps happening.
It keeps happening.
It keeps happening.

I saw an MG Midget.
And a Triumph TR6.
And I kissed a pretty girl.
And I’ve sent you her photo.
And aren’t the Brits stupid.
And there’s a lot of rich Yanks around here.
And I saw this thing about aircraft.
And I was thinking about us sailing.
And I think Macron’s an arsehole.
And I know you disagree.
And someone was fishing at La Villette.
And I can’t ever go back.
And I’m sorry that we argued.
And I want to leave.
And I don’t know where to go to.
And I wrote something today.
And I can’t kiss the pretty girl any more.
And Paris is too noisy.
And the French all drive shit cars.

Fall on Your Knees
An extract from “Poems About Dying”

The body was gone
The spirit departed, too
But he sure left behind a lot of blood to mop-up
On the wooden floor upstairs
And vodka bottles to throw out
Hidden in every nook and cranny.
Fall on your knees!
It’s midnight, Christian
So get scrubbing!
And I’ll do you a small favour:
I’ll keep her in Australia
There will be no stars shining
And no night divine
And so she won't see this.
I’ve punished her enough—
With her mother
And now with him.
So get to work, sunshine
Now the police have all gone
And they called him your step-father
And you realised he was
Only then
Too late
Did you like that?
That was my best joke, I think.

Antonio Fuso is a writer, born in Ireland and living and working in Paris. He holds a PhD in philosophy. To read more of his work published by S&D, click here.

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