The grand advertising clock
that stands on one stone leg
outside the Bonney-Watson
Funeral Home on Broadway
is broken. Both
the hour and the minute hands
have been removed from its face.
The twelve once-proud Roman numerals
sit around all day and night
without a goddamn thing to do.
The handless clock face seems to say
that there is no time left at all, or else
that there is all the time in the world.

Inside the Bonney-Watson brick house
the funeral director caresses a fat
check, allowing only his eyes to smile.

Standing before thirty well-dressed weepers,
an Episcopalian pastor
reads a long dead passage
from a paperback copy
of T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets.
In his mind while he reads there is nothing
but the big glass of gin which awaits him
when his performance is finally over.

The hot jungle riot
of carefully arranged cut flowers
is beautiful, but out of place.
They should be deathless plastic blooms
to match the open molded-metal coffin
which the stiff has been stretched out in —
painted pretty like a Pike Street whore.

The thirty members of the audience
break out weeping all at once
when they realize that the coffin — although
substantial and as scientific as a submarine —
is going to be of no help at all.
It is not going to work.

Actually, girls and boys,
on our field trip today
we aren’t going to visit the darkness
of the Bonney-Watson Funeral Home on Broadway.
On our field trip today, my sleepy children,
we’ll visit the Fun House at the fairgrounds.
I only mentioned death and dying
to get your attention, to wake you up —
a little trick I learned from God.
And by the way, although his body’s fatal
heart attack occurred three days ago,
our dead man’s spirit has been living
in that Fun House at the fairgrounds
for nearly seven years already!

Enter the Fun House — house of mirrors
and mirages. See yourself as you are,
as you ain’t: a giant, a dwarf, here
tomorrow, gone today, one, many, fat,
skinny. See yourself in the window, look
through the mirror at the other.

That’s it, boys and girls — you’re laughing.
I’m so glad you’re laughing your hearts out.
Since you’ve learned your lesson for today
quickly, we can exit the old darkness
of the Fun House; we can step out into the sun-
shine which never stops shining; we can even
get some hot dogs and ride all the rides —
the rides which never stop rocking, rolling,
whirling, soaring, tumbling,
bumping, and grinding.

But the spirit of our dead man
must remain behind — back
in the bright darkness of the Fun House —
until he learns his lesson, too;
until he learns to laugh
at himself; until he laughs to see
that a home is just a house,
and that every house, however grand,
is but a cheap hotel —
a shady spot
to rest in
for a while.