August 2001

Jean Powers


Jean Powers is a writer and creator of small things. She lives in Boston, and is married to the sea.
Death of the Mighty Buttman    Click to hear in real audio

after "Evening Noise at the Funeral" by Bob DeGraaff

After a period of small victories, nails
and hair, the usual, I returned to dust,
as the stuttering priests predicted. It's just
so damned hot in here. I once welcomed heat.
Humidity, that was the stuff. Back in the day,

my breath flattened entire flowerbeds. It was
a powerful stink, the stuff of legends, known
throughout nine-and-twenty counties, ragged
children paying a nickel or a dime to scream
downwind. I disdained the pale impermanence

of sunbeams, swallowed rainbows, puppies,
guppies, shoes, bulked to sixteen feet and nine
across, with swollen purple nipples, the balls
of a Cossack and a gut like a goat. I was living
the good life. Then came Charon with his midnight

boating trips and barbecues of spareribs and corndogs
with relish, his women pale as onions and reeking
of gudgeon and riverside dirges, and finally, fatally,
the drunken bet. Oiled up tight with vaseline
and vodka, I dove into the Styx, muddy and sinking

like a continent. They fished me out and sliced me stem
to stern, stuffed my magnificent, swollen carcass into black
tails, passed the sweetmeats and pastries, fed my father
black coffee through the cheerful eulogy, and slammed
the round door shut. Now, outside the breathless stone

walls, a young woman reads a Latin-American novel. Men
replace faded cloth flags with fresh ones. Fragrant, edible
mushrooms cluster in the musty mausoleum shadow. And I lie
beveled and rigid in the drawer, my hairy shout torqued
into cryptic silence, corked like a lead pipe for posterity.



Jean Powers: Poetry
Copyright 2001 The Cortland Review Issue 17The Cortland Review