For those among us who lived by the rules,
Lived frugal lives of *****-scratching desperation;
For those who sustained a zombie-like state for 30 or 40 years,
For these few, our lucky few—
We bequeath an interactive Life-Alert emergency dog tag,
Or better still a dog, a colossal pet beast,
A humongous Harlequin Dane to feed,
For that matter, why not buy a few new cars before you die?
Your home mortgage is, after all, dead and buried.
We gave you senior-citizen rates for water, gas & electricity—
“The Big 3,” as they are known in certain Gasoline Alley-retro
Neighborhoods among us,
Our parishes and boroughs.
All this and more, had you lived small,
Had you played by the rules for Smurfs & Serfs.
We leave you the chance to treat your grandkids
Like Santa’s A-List clientele,
“Good ‘ol Grampa,” they’ll recollect fondly,
“Sweet Grammy Strunzo, they will sigh.
What more could you want in retirement?
You’ve enabled another generation of deadbeat grandparents,
And now you’re next in line for the ice floe,
To be taken away while still alive,
Still hunched over and wheezing,
On a midnight sleigh ride,
Your son, pulling the proverbial Eskimo sled,
Down to some random Arctic shore,
Placing you gently on the ice floe.
Your son; your boy--
A true chip off the igloo, so to speak.
He leaves you on the ice floe,
Remembering not to leave the sled,
The proverbial Sled of Abbandono,
The one never left behind,
As it would be needed again,
Why not a home in storage while we wait?
The family will surely need it sometime down the line.
A dignified death?
Who can afford one these days?
The question answers itself:
You are John Goodman in “The Big Lebowski.”
You opt for an empty 2-lb can of Folgers.
You know: "The best part of waking up, is Folger's in your cup!"
That useless mnemonic taught us by “Mad Men.”
Slogans and theme songs imbibe us.
Provided by America’s Ruling Class.
Thank you Lewis H. Lapham for giving it to us straight.
Why not go with the aluminum Folgers can?
Rather than spend the $300.00 that mook funeral director
Tries to shame you into coughing up,
For the economy-class “Legacy Urn.”
An old seduction: Madison Avenue’s Gift of Shame.
Does your **** smell?” asks a sultry voice,
Igniting a carpet bomb across the 20-45 female cohort,
2 billion pathetically insecure women,
Spending collectively $10 billion each year—
Still a lot of money, unless it’s a 2013
Variation on an early 1930s Germany theme;
The future we’ve created;
The future we deserve.
Now a wheelbarrow load of paper currency,
Scarcely buy a loaf of bread.
Even if you’re lucky enough to make it,
Back to your cave alive,
After shopping to survive.
Women spend $10 billion a year for worry-free *****.
I don’t read The Wall Street Journal either,
But I’m pretty **** sure,
That “The Feminine Hygiene Division”
Continues to hold a corner office, at
Fear of Shame Corporate Headquarters.
Eventually, FDS will go the way of the weekly ******.
Meanwhile, in God & vaginal deodorant we trust,
Something you buy just to make sure,
Just in case the *** Gods send you a gift.
Some 30-year old **** buddy,
Some linguistically gifted man or woman,
Some he or she who actually enjoys eating your junk:
“Oh Woman, thy name is frailty.”
“Oh Man, thou art a Woman.”
“Oh Art is for Carney in “Harry & Tonto,”
Popping the question: “Dignity in Old Age?”
Will it too, go the way of the weekly ******?
It is pointless to speculate.
Things our primitive ancestors did without,
Playing it safe on the dry savannah,
Where the last 3 drops evaporate in an instant,
Rather than go down your pants,
No matter how much you wiggle & dance.
Think about it!
Think cemeteries, my Geezer friends.
Of course, your first thought is
How nice it would be, laid to rest
In the Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey.
Born a ******. Died a ******. Laid in the grave?
Or Père Lachaise,
Within a stone’s throw of Jim Morrison--
Embraced, held close by loving soil,
Caressed, held close by a Jack Daniels-laced mud pie.
Or, with Ulysses S. Grant, giving new life to the quandary:
Who else is buried in the freaking tomb?
Bury my heart with Abraham in Springfield.
Enshrine my body in the Taj Mahal,
Build for me a pyramid, says Busta Cheops.
Something simple, perhaps, like yourself.
Or, like our old partner in crime:
Lee Harvey, in death, achieving the soul of brevity,
Like Cher and Madonna a one-name celebrity,
A simple yet obscure grave stone carving: OSWALD.
Perhaps a burial at sea? All the old salts like to go there.
Your corpse wrapped in white duct/duck tape,
Still frozen after months of West Pac naval maneuvers,
The CO complying with the Department of the Navy Operations Manual,
Offering this service on « An operations-permitting basis, »
About as much latitude given any would-be Ahab,
Shortlisted for Command-at-sea.
So your body is literally frozen stiff,
Frozen solid for six months packed,
Spooned between 50-lb sacks of green beans & carrots.
Deep down in the deep freeze,
Within the Deep Freeze :
The ship’s storekeeper has a cryogenic *******
Deep down in his private sanctuary,
Privacy in the bowels of the ship.
While up on deck you slide smoothly down the pine plank,
Old Glory billowing in the sea breeze,
Emptying you out into the great abyss of
Some random forlorn ocean.
Perhaps you are a ******* lunatic?
Maybe you likee—Shut the **** up, Queequeg !
Perhaps you want a variation on the burial-at-sea option ?
Here’s mine, as presently set down in print,
Lawyer-prepared, notarized and filed at the Court of the Grand Vizier,
Copies of same in safe deposit boxes,
One of many benefits Chase offers free to disabled Vets,
Demonstrating, again, my zombie-like allegiance to the rules.
But I digress.
« The true measure of one’s life »
Said most often by those we leave behind,
Is the wealth—if any—we leave behind.
The fact that we cling to bank accounts,
Bank safe deposit boxes,
Legal aide & real estate,
Insurance, and/or cash . . .
Just emphasizes the foregone conclusion,
For those who followed the rules.
Those of us living frugally,
Sustaining the zombie trance all these years.
You can jazz it up—go ahead, call it your « Work Ethic. »
But you might want to hesitate before you celebrate
Your unimpeachable character & patriotism.
What is the root of Max Weber’s WORK ETHIC concept?
‘Tis one’s grossly misplaced, misguided, & misspent neurosis.
Unmasked, shown vulnerably pink & naked, at last.
Truth is: The harder we work, the more we lay bare
The Third World Hunger in our souls.
But again, I digress. Variation on a Theme :
At death my body is quick-frozen.
Then dismembered, then ground down
To the consistency of water-injected hamburger,
Meat further frozen and Fedex-ed to San Diego,
Home of our beloved Pacific Fleet.
Stowed in a floating Deep Freeze where glazed storekeepers
Sate the lecherous Commissary Officer,
Aboard some soon-to-be underway—
Underway: The Only Way
Echo the Old Salts, a moribund Greek Chorus
Goofing still on the burial-at-sea concept.
Underway to that sacred specific spot,
Let's call it The Golden Shellback,
Where the Equator intersects,
The International Dateline,
Where my defrosted corpse nuggets,
Are now sprinkled over the sea,
While Ray Charles sings his snarky
Child Support & Alimony
His voice blasting out the 1MC,
She’s eating steak. I’m eating baloney.
Ray is the voice of disgruntlement,
Palpable and snide in the trade winds,
Perhaps the lost chord everyone has been looking for:
Laughing till we cry at ourselves,
Our small corpse kernels, chum for sharks.
In a nutshell—being the crazy *******’ve come to love-
Chop me up and feed me to the Orcas,
Just do it ! NIKE!
That’s right, a $commercial right in the middle of a ******* poem!
Do it where the Equator crosses the Dateline :
A sailors’ sacred vortex: isn’t it ?
Wouldn’t you say, Shipmates, one and all?
I’m talking Conrad’s Marlow, here, man!
Call me Ishmael or Queequeg.
Thor Heyerdahl or Tristan Jones,
Bogart’s Queeq & Ensign Pulver,
Wayward sailors, one and all.
And me, of course, aboard the one ride I could not miss,
Even if it means my Amusement Park pass expires.
Ceremony at sea ?
Absolutely vital, I suppose,
Given the monotony and routine,
Of the ship’s relentlessly vacant seascape.
« There is nothing so desperately monotonous as the sea,
And I no longer wonder at the cruelty of pirates. «
So said James Russell Lowell,
One of the so-called Fireside Poets,
With Longfellow and Bryant,
Whittier, the Quaker and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.,
19th Century American hipsters, one and all.
Then there’s CREMATION,
A low-cost option unavailable to practicing Jews.
« Ashes to ashes » remains its simplest definition.
LOW-COST remains its operant phrase & universal appeal.
No Deed to a 2by6by6 foot plot of real estate,
Paid for in advance for perpetuity—
Although I suggest reading the fine print—
Our grass--once maintained by Japanese gardeners--
Now a lost art in Southern California,
Now that little Tokyo's finest no longer
Cut, edge & manicure, transform our lawns
Into a Bonsai ornamental wonderland.
Today illegal/legal Mexicans employing
More of a subtropical slash & burn technique.
Cremation : no chunk of marble,
No sandstone, wood or cardboard marker,
Plus the cost of engraving and site installation.
Quoth the children: "****, you’re talking $30K to
Put the old ****** in the ground? Cheap **** never
Gave me $30K for college, let alone a house down payment.
What’s my low-cost, legitimate disposal going to run me?"
CREMATION : they burn your corpse in Auschwitz ovens.
You are reduced to a few pounds of cigar ash.
Now the funeral industry catches you with your **** out.
You must (1) pay to have your ashes stored,
Or (2) take them away in a gilded crate that,
Again, you must pay for.
So you slide into Walter Sobjak,
The Dude’s principal amigo,
And bowling partner in the
Brothers Coen masterpiece: The Big Lebowski.
You head to the nearest Safeway for a 2-lb can of Folgers.
And while we’re on the subject of cremation & the Jews,
Think for a moment on the horror of The Holocaust:
Dispossessed & utterly destroyed, one last indignity:
Corpses disposed of by cremation,
For Jews, an utterly unacceptable burial rite.
Now before we leave Mr. Sobjak,
Who is, as you know, a deeply disturbed Vietnam vet,
Who settles bowling alley protocol disputations,
By brandishing, by threatening the weak-minded,
With a loaded piece, the same piece John Turturro—
Stealing the movie as usual, this time as Jesus Quintana—
Bragging how he will stick it up Walter’s culo,
Pulling the trigger until it goes: Click-Click-Click!
Terrestrial burial or cremation?
For me: Burial at Sea:
Slice me, dice me into shark food.
Or maybe something a la Werner von Braun:
Your dead meat shot out into space;
A personal space probe & voyager,
A trajectory of one’s own choosing?
Oh hell, why not skip right down to the nitty gritty bottom line?
Current technology: to wit, your entire life record,
Your body and history digitized & downloaded
To a Zip Drive the size of the average *******,
A data disc then Fedex-ed anywhere in the galaxy,
Including exotic burial alternatives,
Like some Martian Kilimanjaro,
Where the tiger stalks above the clouds,
Nary a one with a freaking clue that can explain
Just what the cat was doing up so high in the first place.
Or, better still, inside a Sherpa’s ***** pack,
A pocket imbued with the same Yak dung,
Tenzing Norgay massages daily into his *******,
Defending the Free World against Communism & crotch rot.
(Forgive me: I am a child of the Cold War.)
Why not? Your life & death moments
Zapped into a Zip Drive, bytes and bits,
Submicroscopic and sublime.
So easy to delete, should your genetic subgroup
Be targeted for elimination.
About now you begin to realize that
A two-pound aluminum Folgers can
Is not such a bad idea.
No matter; the future is unpersons,
The Ministry of Information will in charge.
The People of Fort Meade--those wacky surveillance folks--
Cloistered in the rolling hills of Anne Arundel County.
That’s who will be calling the shots,
Picking the spots from now on.
Welcome to Cyber Command.
Say hello to Big Brother.
Say “GOOD-BYE PRIVACY.”
Meanwhile, you’re spending most of your time
Fretting ‘bout your last rites--if any—
Burial plots on land and sea, & other options,
Such as whether or not to go with the
Concrete outer casket,
Whether or not you prefer a Joe Cocker,
Leon Russell or Ray Charles 3-D hologram
Singing at your memorial service.
While I am fish food for the Golden Shellbacks,
I am a fine young son of Neptune,
We are Old Salts, one and all,
Buried or burned or shot into space odysseys,
Or digitized on a data disc the size of
An average human *******.
Snap outta it, Einstein!
Like everyone else,
You’ve been fooled again.