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Observations on Dead Things

by Jennifer Stahl Brown

a dead shark ended up on a subway car in New York City

it was riding the subway to Queens, blood shining on its wet mouth like lipgloss

authorities threw it away at the end of the line


a dead thing lies in the sand in the front yard

hairless, grey like old milk

flies have started to use its body as an incubator

a bee chews –sucks?– at a small hole in the dead thing’s face

deathly kisses


shoo— I wave my hand like a wand

the insects do not stop their work

they abuse the dead thing

filling its mouth with eggs, yellow filings

I use a newspaper to scoop up the tiny body

and throw the whole microbiome into the garbage can at the side of the house


children will rip the wings off Japanese beetles that hide in the rose bushes

just to watch them buzz in vain on the sidewalk

Jennifer Stahl Brown is a middle school language arts teacher in New Jersey. She is also a poet and short story writer whose publications include Edison Literary Review, Paterson Literary Review, The Stillwater Review, and This Broken Shore (Coleridge Institute Press). Jenny’s love of poetry started as a preteen when a copy of Emily Dickinson’s collected poems showed up in her Easter basket. Her Chilean roots lead her to read Pablo Neruda, an episode that left her panting and sweaty in the poetry section of a Barnes & Noble in the late 80s - an episode that also secured her place as a sucker for a love poem. A self-proclaimed “slow poet,” Jenny’s writing routine usually starts with a few tears before she circles the wagons and puts pen to paper.


August 2019

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