by Alan Catlin

after reading Jackie Sheeler

After my mother died
the city cop in Midtown
South Manhattan recognized
the writing on the evidence
envelope as his own,

recalled the unattended
death crosstown in
Martha Washington Hotel
for Women as one of those
not-so-routine cases you
weren’t likely to forget,

said, “That room she was in,
it might be a bit of a mess.”

Like someone might be a
“little bit pregnant”
or “Unresponsive at the scene,
maybe dead for days.”

What he should have said
was, “It’s a fucking horror story”
but even that would have been
a lie.

It was worse than that.

Ten times worse.

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