Christopher Henry Smith

Independent Arts Administrator

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Travelling With the Dead

It’s dangerous business
Using the dead to travel.
You’ll wind up a stiff yourself,
But there’s hardly a
Quicker method out there.

If you’re ready,
First approach a grave
Or a morgue or columbarium
(Any avenue, really);
No matter whether
They burn them
Or bury them, just
Find someone not breathing.

Then close your eyes and
Concentrate on that person’s name.

There’s a Latin phrase you need next
(Naturally, I won’t note it here),
But it’s really the key in all of this.

And then you’re off.

It’s that easy.

(Truly, it’s a wonder more morticians fond of the classics
Haven’t traversed with the dead on accident themselves).

All the while, it’s important to
Keep your eyes closed and
Think of where you’re going.
If you happen to open your eyes,
The nearest soul in that ether
Will grapple onto you and together,
You’ll surface near where their body
Lies a few feet below in the earth.
(I discovered this quite by accident and spent
Three days trying to find another point of entry
Across miles and miles of the Gobi).

Once you leave the living you’ll know it.
To begin, it’s like jolting
Out of a dream where you’re falling,
(Only backwards).

Then, you feel,
As if you’re underwater
And your body is
Covered in tongues all
Licking 9-volt batteries.
It’s just a steady reminder that
You’re alive and
Not in your natural habitat.

And then you’re off,
Dancing from partner to partner
In a bizarre necromancy,
Shifting from one pas de deux
To the next, finally settling
In the arms of a beau
Buried closest to your destination.

No time will seem to have gone
(Or a few weeks if done wrong).

Those first few times,
You’ll arise fish-gasping and damp.
A funny site, no doubt, for passersby
(Or a terrible one for those
Thinking themselves quite alone
Laying flowers at a loved one’s tomb).

You’ll perhaps want to practice surfacing far from the living first.

Soon, though, it’s as easy as stepping on a train.
And such an exhilarating sensation,
Unique to anything you’ll have experienced.
Unless you’ve dabbled in traveling with cats.
(But that’s really another sensation entirely).

Chicago, IL

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