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In the Elsewhere

Bruce McRae

Her death had secret compartments,

hidden dimensions, undiscovered recesses.

Her death had voles and moles and indices.

There were colours no one had ever mentioned.

Tables of intricate marquetry.

A number of moments resigned to memory.


Some deaths are small and devoid of grace,

not a dog or an angel notices.

But her death, her death was everything.

It sank entire navies and rewrote history.

There were motorcades and mastodons.

A volley of wheels and comical noises.

A stifled breeze. Milk teeth. Flapping curtains

in a cottage on the Mediterranean.


Her death had planets of ice and sand,

with smart-mouthed moons and bright-eyed satellites.

We are bereft and grieve wholeheartedly,

her death the mathematics of distraction.

Black night. Red dawn. Yellow morning.

Her death an afternoon so blue

the sky stood still and the priestess wept

and the cat sprawled out in the midday sun

and the prophet decried his warning.


She died countless deaths, not only the one.

Before she was born there was her death,

its lively gospel, its spiritous draft.

Like a hot knife or a summer squall.

Like a green rowboat on the Serpentine.

Her death withheld a redwing blackbird,

a bloodstained apron, some silly bric-a-brac,

a hairpin turn, a book of ancient poetry.

Hard engines. Junk shrines. Temples to the air.

A wayward molecule. The Cat's Eye Nebula.


We stood in water up to our chins.

We burnt our money in a bonfire.

We shrugged off all our skins

and still her death was an accomplishment.

A five year plan. A pout. A pendulum.


Now a queue has formed, a celebration planned.

The other dead have gathered and are linking arms.

The unborn have arrived in their starry vehicles,

your death reduced to stones and bones.

We can't walk or talk or be with you.

We are alone and can never go home.

All the fires of the sun shall never warm you.

Bruce McRae, a Canadian musician, is a multiple Pushcart nominee with poems published in hundreds of magazines such as Poetry, Rattle and the North American Review. The winner of the 2020 Libretto prize and author of four poetry collections and seven chapbooks, his poems have been performed and broadcast globally.

Janis Butler Holm
Skull Vase with Lilies

Bruce McRae
Death-Black and Starbound

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