Betsy Mars is an LA based poet and educator whose love of language and culture was influenced by her parents (a professor and a social worker), and two formative years in Brazil during her early childhood. She is a passionate traveler, mother of adult children, and animal lover, and spends her spare time futilely trying to maintain some semblance of cleanliness in her household. Her work has recently appeared in Tuck Magazine, The Rise Up Review, and the California Quarterly.
Once you’ve worked in a morgue,
smelled the putrid scents,
inhaled the exhales of dead flesh
and stomach contents, opened
mouths clamped in rigor mortis
and closed unseeing eyes,
can you be light? Can you illuminate
the cause and time of death?
Each blue body your future,
confronting and affronting your nostrils
and dreams. A cold slap in the face of denial,
and anger, and all those other
stages of grief which are just
stepping stones to acceptance,
as the world empties of the ones you love.
Another Word for Absence
My father was my thesaurus;
when he died all the synonyms
went with him. There was no sadness,
only grief. No worry, just despair.
The antonyms went, too,
being naturally contrary.
What use was there for the opposite
of failure or stagnation or sparklers
when there was no one left to see
them lit? Who could find the right word
for poetry or show me the language
in the instrumental, describe the fine burn
of old tequila on the tongue,
and how many words remain for laughter.
in appearance. When he dis-
to make him whole again.