Creased Map of the Underworld

Nothing is so beautiful as death

Creased Map of the Underworld

Nothing is so beautiful as death,
thinks Death: stilled lark on the lawn,
its twiggy legs drawn up, squashed blossoms
of skunks and opossums on the freeway,
dog that drags itself trembling down
the front porch step, and stops
in a black-gummed grimace
before toppling into the poppies.
The ugly poppies. In Afghanistan
they are again made beautiful
by a mysterious blight. Ugly
are the arriving American soldiers, newly shorn
and checking their email,
but beautiful when face-up in the road
or their parts scattered
like bullet- or sprinkler-spray
or stellar remains. Lovely
is the nearly expired star
casting its mass into outer space,
lovelier the supernova
tearing itself apart
or collapsing like Lana Turner
in Frank O’Hara’s poem.
Nothing is so beautiful as a poem
except maybe a nightingale,
thinks the poet writing about death,
sinking Lethe-wards. Lovely river
in which the names are carefully entered.
In this quadrant are the rivers of grief and fire.
Grid north. Black azimuth.
Down rivers of Fuck yous and orchids
steer lit hearts in little boats
gamely making their way,
spinning and flaming, flaming
and spiraling, always down--
down, the most beautiful of the directions.
Kim Addonizio

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Poem ©2014 Kim Addonizio, all rights reserved. Used by permission of the author and publishers Plume Poetry and Stephen F. Austin State University Press. Film ©2015 Motionpoems, Inc., all rights reserved.