Post Mortem, a poem by Laurie L Byro at

Post Mortem

Post Mortem

written by: Laurie L Byro


Open Sesame, Richard,
Quizzical, grizzled wizard
Hair full of stars
I believed you
when you set fire to all the radios in the apartment
believed the apartment
with its clutter of dishes
in the sink
and missed you like crazy
when you left for Japan
hoping for a new story, a new book
trusted your smile
and wanted to be cool
like all those bashful girls on the covers

When you were no longer able
to suggest places for me to go
I invented my own
and I spent an entire summer
or spring anyway
writing a book
Richard Brautigan style
tip tapping the keys
I pictured you
making me tea
fixing us dinner
winking a sly wink
stroking your moustache
and laughing at all the right sentences

Then, when I spoke Richard Brautigan,
he was like a secret that only
girl roommates in dormitories shared
like who smoked dope
and which ones of us were bulimic
we were awkward in our womanhood
men were a country you invaded
you didn’t explore
and there were few survivors
but we knew the rules of living together
about what not to tell our parents

and which of us knew the right answer
to the questions we didn’t have
names for yet
like a medieval forest in Brittany
we understood the language of
risk, truth, loyalty and sisterhood
but weren’t ready for the big moments
of adulthood
the small ones were terrifying enough

But I want to get back to the truth
while nature, without hesitation
just moves on.

While Kim sticks her finger
down her throat
and tries to vomit up her soul
I turn up the radio
and wring out a washcloth
wondering what else can
I do for her, for anyone
that desperate,
that fearful of being out of control.
In sunshine, at the Jersey shore,
I try to convince her
that having an ice cream
isn’t about failing
and she manages to get most of it
down her
but throws the cone to the gulls
and in two or three swoops
it disappears
it disappears like Kim
eventually disappears
from my world

Fast Forward
to my first year of marriage
I felt too responsible
for my life

a new job, a new husband
I could barely gather
flowers for our table
let alone
make a life for him, for us

But he liked the curve of my cheek
as I lay sleeping
liked the length of leg as I ran down
the sidewalk to meet him
to tell him breathlessly
“I haven’t made dinner yet
but guess what?
I finished another chapter today
and guess what else?
Richard Brautigan was found rotting
in his house
he killed himself, they say…”

and my new husband frowns at me and answers
“why can’t you at least start dinner like
you’ve promised a hundred times before?”
and who, the fuck, may I ask is Richard Brautigan?”

So I wink slyly, Richard,
the way you’ve taught me
and I tell him
“There are some things neither you nor I
have learned to get right yet
and I’ll let you know all about it
once I’ve written us
a happy ending…”

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