Bag of Bones

The guard dragged Frank feet-first,
as if he were
one more Saturday night special,
just another drunk destined for the tank.
Fifteen minutes of chest compressions
got the COs winded by turns
and the old man no further from death.

the corpse rested for a few minutes.
No need to hurry, really.
It’s not if he was about to sit up
and start dancing, but you never knew.
When the EMTs arrived
they might zap him a few times,
even give him the kiss.

Stories will be passed around
Like a beat up thermos of coffee
Spiked with airline whiskey.
‘Scared me shitless,’ said that fat one.
‘Guy’d been flat for damn near to twenty.’
Skinny said, ‘Marty had one singing, right out of nowhere.
Irish. Pretty dead though.’

If Frank was alive he was keeping it to himself.
The nurse checked her watch.
She was sore from giving flu shots all day,
and kept rubbing her arm as if to wake it up.
It had felt good to actually do something
with pretty much guaranteed results,
not so scarey-iffy as all this resurrection business.

No one said much after the story about the Irishman.
The zap battery had gone dead,
So it was all hand work,
press and pump, press and pump.
The fat one nearly said aloud,
‘Kinda like a factory job, ain’t it?’
the skinny one silently packed up.
Frank didn’t complain when the zipper
caught on his nose. It was pretty big.
Not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings,
the fat one apologized anyway.
He hadn’t known the guy,
but he reminded him of somebody,
couldn’t remember just who.

— Richard Gagnon

The writer is an incarcerated person in Vermont

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