Jen Karetnick’s fourth full-length book is The Burning Where Breath Used to Be (David Robert Books, September 2020). She is also the author of Hunger Until It’s Pain (Salmon Poetry, forthcoming spring 2023); The Treasures That Prevail (Whitepoint Press, September 2016), finalist for the 2017 Poetry Society of Virginia Book Prize; and the chapbook The Crossing Over (March 2019), winner of the 2018 Split Rock Review Chapbook Competition, in addition to six other collections. Karetnick has won the 2020 Tiferet Writing Contest for Poetry, the Hart Crane Memorial Prize, and the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Prize, among others, and has been an Artist in Residence in the Everglades, a Deering Estate Artist in Residence, and a Maryland Purple Line Transit grant recipient. Co-founder and managing editor of SWWIM Every Day, she has work appearing recently in Barrow Street, The Comstock Review, december, Michigan Quarterly Review, Terrain.org, and elsewhere. Based in Miami, Jen works as a lifestyle journalist and is also the author of four cookbooks, four guidebooks, and more. Find her on Twitter @Kavetchnik and Instagram @JenKaretnick, or see jkaretnick.com.
@Death tells me our relationship is complicated, and wants to simplify things.
@Death tells me about “soul midwives” and “death doulas,” flashlight-armed ushers to that final
@Death tells me to decide now between a 12-piece jazz band and Rush’s 2112 for my service.
@Death tells me that wearing a Fitbit may help me die better: 10,000 steps toward a daily end.
@Death tells me, when Wimbledon is canceled, the history behind the sudden-death tiebreak.
There used to be a lingering-death tiebreak, too, but that was put to death.
@Death tells me the florists known for reliability and fair pricing.
@Death does not know the scent of flowers aches my temples, throbs my veins.
@Death tells me the statistics on selfies: Officially five times more fatal than shark attacks.
@Death tells me jokes, like the one about the man who invented autocorrect dying. “Restaurant
in Peace,” @Death says.
@Death tells me, as the U.S. women’s soccer team fight for equal pay, that captains of losing
teams were traditionally sacrificed.
@Death wants to know if I will put down my surviving pets when I die.
@Death is feeling ancient Egyptian, but walks like a cop in a donut shop.
@Death wants me to take one last rum safari in Jamaica, drink mamajuana with the locals.
@Death tells me that “dying on holiday does happen.” Presumably by selfie.
@Death does not know vacations have also died.
@Death tells me lines from obituaries, such as “Freeda sledge-hammered every rule of healthy
eating to obtain a nice long life.”
@Death tells me about direct cremation, how I can be turned into ash without a priest.
@Death does not know that I’m Jewish, despite skin etched into graphic anecdotes.
@Death tells me stories, like the one about the golden retriever trained to bring tissues to
mourners at a funeral home.
@Death asks if I’ve seen Michael Jackson around.
@Death is not old enough to ask about Elvis.
@Death posts links for alternative hearses. My coffin can be carried by a Harley Davidson
sidecar, Volkswagen Campervan, horse-drawn carriage, fire engine, vintage truck,
bicycle, or Land Rover capable of an off-road detour.
@Death tells me grief will compound chronic pain, speed up an illness.
@Death tells me to appoint a digital executor to care for my social media estate.
@Death tells me how I can be unburied in a coffin made of willow or bamboo that biodegrades
so that my bones will be available to earth, my reception embraceable as limbs.
@Death does not know that I live at sea level, where mangroves snarl the sand.
@Death tells me how I do and do not feel, twice per day, sometimes three times.
@Death tells me to be #deathpositive, but so often the numbers say otherwise.