Reading Matters

‘When the Dead Undress’ from Scott Owens’ new collection

Cover art by Jonathan K. Rice

Scott Owens, editor of Wild Goose Poetry Review of Hickory, has a new collection of poetry from Main Street Rag. “Down to Sleep” is Owens’ 14th collection, which N.C. Poet Laureate Shelby Stephenson says “ebbs and edges dream and reality in a joyful awakening.”

Here is Owens’ poem”When the Dead Undress,” from the new collection, with cover art by Jonathan K. Rice:


When the dead undress

unbuttoning breasts

and navels, opening

the long zipper

of spine, loosening

the jacket of flresh,

they hang skins

in closets, throw

skulls in hatboxes,

arms over backs

of chairs. Of course

they take their time,

fingering each piece

lovingly, leaving

traces of their passing

everywhere, faces

hung in mirrors,

prints of bodies

in beds, a foot

sticking out beneath it.

When all is undone

they open the cage

of ribs, squeeze

the pulpy mass

of heart one last time,

let it fall,

tuck their hands

in pockets like something

saved until later.

What is left

floats in hallways,

walks through walls,

stoops on your chest at night.

-- Main Street Rag, P.O. Box 690100, Charlotte, N.C., 28227. Price $15.