by Deborah Flanagan



In 762, poet Li Po kisses the reflection of the moon beside his boat,
falls overboard and drowns.

            I like men and moons.
            His head, an old chandelier, going dark.

In 1911, Distiller Jack Daniel kicks his safe: can’t remember the combination.
Dies from blood poisoning from his infected toe.

In 1387, Monarch Charles the Bad is wrapped in brandy-soaked bandages
and sewn in. Instead of cutting the end of thread, his servant uses a candle: accidentally burns him alive.

            In my heart the fire develops.
            I baptize myself in the moat of the castle.

In 1939, Finnish actress Sirkka Sari mistakes the chimney for a balcony at a cast party.
Falls down chimney into boiler.

            My vision is getting a little sparkly around the edges.
            I need to hear a fairy tale so I can feel safe.

In 1884, Detective Allan Pinkerton slips and bites his tongue: contracts gangrene.

            I can’t find what I’m looking for—
            My old-fashioned manners prevent me from shaking his hand.

In 1410, King Martin the Humane eats an entire goose
while his favorite jester tells a joke. He dies
from indigestion and uncontrollable laughing.

            I can’t stand to be tickled.
            I eat the goose’s golden egg sunny side up.

In 1978, mathematician Kurt Gödel suffers from an obsessive fear of being poisoned: refuses to eat food prepared by anyone other than his wife.
Dies of starvation after his wife is hospitalized for six months.

            I wish I knew why the dogs refused
            to eat the palms of Jezebel’s hands.

In 1941, writer Sherwood Anderson swallows a toothpick from his martini at a party. Dies of peritonitis.

In 620 BC, Athenian law-maker Draco is smothered to death by gifts of cloaks showered upon him by appreciative citizens.

            Despite a lot of dear little ghosts,
            I can’t bear the strain of moving into a haunted house.





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