UNDERGROUND VOICES: POETRY

DENNIS MAHAGIN

FROM THE DIARY OF A GREEDY CORONER

Items recovered
from decedent's jacket
pocket: half a Big Mac
wrapper, a bottle of
pink stuff, rose-colored comb
with missing teeth, address book,
plug nickel and scratch off
lottery ticket: one of those
complicated jobbers costs
about twenty dollars, with a
bunch of numbers laid out
via mind-numbing

grids. Decedent
had begun rubbing
off a criss-cross diagonal
run, or two; then he apparently grew
... weary or ... what? He never finished
scratching his lottery ticket.

But I did.

A white male, in his mid
fifties, decedent possessed no
distinguishing birthmarks nor
tattoos, save for a garnet stud
in left anterior ear
lobe, and
a phone number
in permanent blue magic
laundry marker, scrawled
on the back of his
right hand.

Who's to say
what a man goes thru,
in the precious few hours
preceding death? Did he leave
by his own hand? Was someone
there to hold it? Or on
the phone. God help us all so
fragile, fragile, I no longer wish
to understand. By next
week, my hope, for Six
Flags, Kissimmee Saint
Cloud or Disneyland. Stomach
contents were inconclusive. Twinge
of green, opportunistic, nothing we
haven't seen
before, I'm so weary
of this gig. Time to
follow through
with my plan.

Toxicology report?
Pending; and what, you may ask: of
the grids? That scratch off lotto grid
that hid a prize of three hundred
grand, once the numbers are properly,
patiently sussed, and they jump out,
like the back of any man's
hand? Do I feel
poorly? For craving some
precious quarter, from a god
forsaken gig? I dunno,

decedent was
a big man, six four, or
five, maybe two sixty ...

Why did he cease
scratching? Cause of death?
I prefer pretending
to never understand.
I'm alive. Yet there was a note
he wrote, on white space above
address form -- covering
the back of that

scratcher, could be
a problem, cryptic as all
Hell get out in blue (some
place warm! some place
warm ... after tax, two hundred
grand) Sharpie marker, one trope
of a lifetime some other man
might find. I hope
to get a mind

around it, so they buy
my story, or finish me
for a wish to try, a little
while later, down at
the lottery office.









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