The Final Test of Canonisation by Robert Beveridge

“When did I become such an undesirable blanket?” –Mary Biddinger, “Beatitudes”

Warnings, even the outdated ones,
are forever spoken in hushed tones.
You walk up the ramp and the man
with the sparse combover and the appropriate
relaxed-bowel sportcoat: “to the right,
please,” he murmurs, just above silent.
“The casket shall remain closed for the duration
of the viewing.” I bite back the obvious.

The room is full, and yet I can see nothing
(what flowers for saints and stuff?) but that
closed box, a refrigerator door meant to preserve—
what?—the nutrients that should return
to the soil, allow us to give back something
so small for all we have taken?

The viewing is what it is, what they all are. Family
members catch up on gossip from pruned branches.
Dinner plans are made, forgotten in trips
to the restroom. The children, unaware
of the purpose of this family reunion, play
in the basement until mischievous, touched
Uncle Michael takes them on a tour
of the morgue. The sandwiches in the back
room have less appeal now then the Hanobska
Chateau Marionette ’95 in the coffee dispenser.

One to four, then six to nine, and the two-
hour interim in which the family flee,
some to a light dinner, some to the local
paid-by-the-hour motel, most to the Linen Lounge,
where the lingerie dancers dress in funeral weeds
and the most popular drink is the zombie.
The director, sportcoat over his shoulder,
steps out for a two-hour chainsmoke and finally,
finally our time is here. We slip the catches
on the drawers, roll ourselves out. This is
our viewing, our private time, and we approach

the casket with reverence, trepidation.
Lift the lid on three, and what we could
not bear to believe lies before us—your body
pristine, untouched by disease, by accident,
by trochar. We slipped our arms beneath you,
where blood would pool, decay begin, and found
what we expected, yet not dared to hope—
the only mark an outrageous hickey, just above
(what is that called?), I put there three
days ago, when you were still alive,
still capable of touching pen to paper.
We had heard Mother Church requires
first photographic evidence, then physical

We did the only thing we could,
the one most right thing: six pallbearers
lined up, lifted the casket from among
its forest, marched in languorous step
toward the open door of the crematorium.
The fire rumbled, a gut promised
a singular, delectable meal.

About the Author: Robert Beveridge

Robert Beveridge makes noise ( and writes poetry just outside Cleveland, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in Borrowed Solace, Dodging the Rain, and Twyckenham Notes, among others.

Still Life with Sid Vicious by Robert Beveridge

for Jeanne Volpe

“I mean, once started, I
can’t not be with you.”–Chris Stroffolino, “Kiss and Run”

Could I be sure
is what I’m askingl
what I want to know
could I be sure
that you wouldn’t run off
with the neighbor’s cat

or eat all the cajun sunflower seeds
before you come up to bed?

The garlic
at dinner last night
was delicious
spinach and cheese

but the cat didn’t like it
so I had you for another night
without too much fear
of losing you to your ex
at least temporarily

it always seems
like that cat, Sid Vicious
with the stubby tail
noses around where you grow
those Mexican sunflowers
where you like to take me
and taunt me with your body
show flashes of breast in public
as if on the beach where you can
just drop the top of your bikini

I could take you to Nassau
and just forget to buy
the tickets home (this
would get you away
from your ex)

but you insist
we take Sid Vicious
and they don’t allow cats
on that kind of white-sand beach
and where else would we live anyway?

We sat on your back porch last night
and drank whiskey from your roommate
Roxanne’s most expensive green glasses
you cuddled the cat and kept
your nipples hidden

the flowers weren’t up yet
so I just sat and stared
at the view of I-95
you like so much

if this were a drug
it would have to be methaqualone
’cause things
move just too damn slow
around here

you look sexy in advice
it tends to shower you
in white like Nassau sand
but I can still reach through it
and touch your skin

so please
get that cat off your lap
and that mind off your ex
come sit down with me
and let me tell you
all about the garlic plants
I grow with my spinach
and sunflowers in Nassau

and how nice the weather
is down there
this time of year

About the Author: Robert Beveridge

Robert Beveridge makes noise ( and writes poetry just outside Cleveland, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in Borrowed Solace, Dodging the Rain, and Twyckenham Notes, among others.