Pre-Mortem Autopsy

Coroner, just staple it to my faint forehead,
the cause of death; and tag my twitching toe
before you put me with the legion John Doe dead—
beneath this morgue’s cold, clinical glow.

Coroner, I do believe you will soon find
that my skin is quite thin when you cut in,
for I’ve a soft-cover for both body and mind,
never having a hard-cover, though a shut-in.

Coroner, when you split me open, look to see
the heart that beat so hard as I composed
what my brain fain thought to be poetry;
that heart still beating— open, but also closed.

See how my heart quickens, hastening to pace
as the scalpel ascends, my soul laid so bare,
and look at the agony on my febrile face—
the pain of seeing how you do not care.

Never had I thought to go under the knife
while yet living, Coroner, and all those times I tried
to make for myself a literary life
are now lost among the others that have died.

No numbing agent, and no rigor mortis—
I can feel with every nerve, though I lay inert
upon this operation table, a corpus
awaiting the body bag and then the dirt.

And do not hold back the medical school
whose students seek to become as staff—
let them observe the dissection of a fool;
perhaps one should like an autograph.

Wait, are we to needle and thread already?
Careful as you stitch! Do not twist or jerk!
The spotlight fades and I am feeling quite heady—
Watch out! Have a care! This is my body of work!

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