I went out to my mailbox.
Everything was addressed to a previous occupant (twice removed)
who is now,
according to my neighbors,
One theory about the afterlife is that your brain, in its winking
finality, replays your life over & over, each repeated
memory growing fainter until celluloid clear—
a jukeboxy kind of immortality.
But Hoffenstein tells us, poetically, that the heart’s dead are never
I like this one better.
In my hand I bear “Douglas J. Smythe” to the trashcan.
We proceed in a manner befitting the occasion.
From his printed name alone I try to summon a face, a biography.
What did he do, and fail to do, in his brief strut?
What was he to those who knew him then?
And to those who remember him now?
That I wonder about him at all is proof of a life after death.
Maybe not harps and clouds, but one I would settle for.
Too, he lives here in the moment of this poem.
I am his witness.
R. A. Allen‘s poetry has appeared in the New York Quarterly, RHINO, Glassworks, The Penn Review, The Schuylkill Valley Journal, The Hollins Critic, Rendez-Vous, and elsewhere. His fiction has been published in The Literary Review, The Barcelona Review, PANK, The Los Angeles Review, and Best American Mystery Stories 2010, among others. He has a Pushcart nomination for poetry and one story nominated for Dzanc Books’ Best of the Web. He lives in Memphis, a city of light and sound.