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Afterlife

James Allen Hall

Were not from here. We dont aria, we warble.


We wore suits to get here, rumpled by the hot car ride.
Pumped our own gas. In Heaven two days,

still the custom shirtlessness offends. Like its the g-d


French Rivera. (You say it yours. Well say it the right way.)
Nor do we au revoir. We eat without speaking, hunched over

our plates at the picnic tables. We prefer paper.


Its not were unfriendly, but its our particular
God Almighty we wont give up. First Sunday here,

and were missing Shirl and Jesse, who started


smoking again. Clove cigarettes, of all things.
What Heaven dont stock Reds soft packs?

Then Tony stopped stopping by, on account


he works overnights at the baby factory,
low on the totem: cranial deformities.

Well its a job. Its enough to crack your heart.

We stay up drinking slurpee-and-rums outside


the Kum & Go. Who knows how long them hot dogs
have roasted on the carriage, under the eternal heat lamp.

Everything here is an effigy to hunger. Time moves


not at all when all the clocks are confiscated. I am terrified
I will begin to speak in the first person about pleasure.

Stop wearing underwear to our To Hell with Heaven


meetings. They give us new names, say forget Louisville.
This heres all the village you need. We lose every day

more folks to Heavens gen pop. We left the earth


but the memory turns us over in its hot light.
The Chief Risk Cherubim say unlearn the love of gravity

and then the earth can leave us back. Psychobabble mumbo


jumble. We dream of opening a garage but aint bum starters
nor oil changes no more. The technology outlived us.

Theres a choice to be made between the past,


the present tense. We are failure-angels, plain
and redneck, were going to fall down to the earth

we cant stop loving, find our families and touch


their faces angrily. But first we will edge with pink
and yellow peonies our graves, our graves

which remind our deaths daily: redeem us.