Colleen McKee will be one of the featured readers at Duff's, 392 North Euclid, on Monday, November 22, when Chance Operations turns the reigns of control over to CJ Smith of JKPublishing.
The reading will also feature Sean Arnold, Michael Castro, Philip Gounis, Ellen Herget, and Nicky Rainey. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., and the cover is $3.
Colleen McKee teaches for both the English Department and for the Institute for Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Colleen's poetry has appeared in publications such as Poetry Daily, Bellevue Literary Review, Flyway, and Bad Shoe, as well as in several book-length collections of poetry. Colleen is co-editor of a book of personal narratives entitled Are We Feeling Better Yet?: Women’s Encounters with Health Care in America.
I had to live long enough to perfect my own funeral.
I’d saved my pennies for an open bar
at the chapel, only rail liquors,
no cheap shit. You only die once.
I’d saved my sequins
for the just-so
little black dress.
I’d spent every Sunday
of the last year of my life
rolling out rugelach dough,
that, and sewing on sequins.
It turns out rugelach
thaws very nicely.
I’d spent every Saturday night
so I would have plenty of mourners, men
to cry and shuffle their feet,
clutch the pale stems of flowers
in clammy palms,
clench and unclench their handsome jaws,
clean-shaven for once; they wish
they had treated me better.
Tattooed and virgin-skinned,
beer-bellied and svelte in their suits,
blonde and red-headed and bald,
they look sideways at each other
over my plain pine box.
They drink and hope my family
doesn’t still hate them.
My friends whisper: She really could
pick em. Some guests
get in fist fights, of course,
a few ties loosened and rugelach-stained...
But after a few tears, a little blood,
some loose petals, people sigh.
They say things like,
I’m sorry. They say,
I wouldn’t go... They say,
I have work
in the morning.
So they go.
One final man sticks around
to turn off the lights.
We are alone in the dark, fragrant
with living white jonquils,
each bunch in its world
of sugary water.
He pats my hand, the naked ring finger.
Each vase will be spilled
with the sun.
-- Colleen McKee