Morgue Poetry

by Claire Bernardo

Editor's note: 'morgue poetry' was the first piece published in our DREAD series in Fall 2017. The series also includes 'Consent' by Morgan Chittum, 'Bridget Bishop' by Dean Graham, and 'Only Darkness' by Micah Long.


morgue poetry pt. 1


i had never seen a dead body before

on my first day i saw five


breathing in charred fumes

i behold a little girl torched in a house fire

her mother couldn’t take it anymore

and had burned the child alive


i walk towards the metal slab

holding my breath the entire time

the way her singed skin peels off

makes me want to cry

but i convince my boss i’m fine

we scoop out her insides

and i take note of every small detail

how much her brain weighs

the way her heart sits perfectly

behind her lungs

how much soot buries her small eyes

after everything is accounted for

and the doctors declare a cause of death

for the millionth time

i zip her bright white body bag shut

and say goodbye


to this day i would give anything to be

that little girl’s mother

i wish i could trade

i would have played with her and sang to her

and helped her with her homework

and if things got hard and that little girl misbehaved

i would have loved her and cherished her

instead of burning her away



morgue poetry pt. 2


if it had not been for that curly haired boy

i would have gone insane

everyday we talked about death

and the way eyes look when there’s no more life left

i told him about the fourteen year old kid

who ended his own life with a gunshot to the head

why a pistol?

he should have been playing with video games instead

and i cried into that curly hair and said

“how bad does it have to be for you to think

‘this is the only way out’

before you’ve even finished puberty”

Thumbnail image by Blake Brown.