Pictures of death

This man decided to confront his fear of death by taking pictures of patients in hospice before and after their deaths. It’s very moving.

We try not to talk about dying and I think we do ourselves a disservice by that avoidance. I believe we need to discuss allowing people ways to opt out when they feel like that is the correct thing to do. Death is inevitable and ignoring its eventuality is absurd.

Emily and Elvis

My friend, Caitlyn, turned me on to this poet via Tumblr. I love both of these.

Emily Dickinson and Elvis Presley in Heaven, by Hans Ostrom

They call each other E. Elvis picks
wildflowers near the river and brings
them to Emily. She explains half-rhymes to him.In heaven Emily wears her hair long, sports
Levis and western blouses with rhinestones.
Elvis is lean again, wears baggy trousers

and T-shirts, a letterman’s jacket from Tupelo High.
They take long walks and often hold hands.
She prefers they remain just friends. Forever.

Emily’s poems now contain naugahyde, Cadillacs,
Electricity, jets, TV, Little Richard and Richard
Nixon. The rock-a-billy rhythm makes her smile.

Elvis likes himself with style. This afternoon
he will play guitar and sing “I Taste a Liquor
Never Brewed” to the tune of “Love Me Tender.”

Emily will clap and harmonize. Alone
in their cabins later, they’ll listen to the river
and nap. They will not think of Amherst

or Las Vegas. They know why God made them
roommates. It’s because America
was their hometown. It’s because

God is a thing
without feathers. It’s because
God wears blue suede shoes.

With All Due RespectEmily Dickinson fell in love with women

And Elvis got his licks from Black folk.
Respectfully, if there is a God
(and only one God)
The fuck would It need shoes for?
If there is a Heaven, undoubtedly Emily is one of its queens
Blissfully happy
With Kate, or maybe Sue.
She is not sexless; she has desires
And now there is more than poetry she can do with them.
When she does receive company
She probably hangs out with Gertrude Stein
Sits out on the porch with Alice B. Toklas
And Sylvia Rivera.

In any idea of Heaven I care for
The music is played by anyone who loves it
But crowds flock to the people who made it
Not to the people who marketed it best
The acceptable white face (if not hips) of blues.

By the end I imagine Elvis probably just wanted to be left alone for a while anyway.

Someday he will emerge, and maybe he won’t be thin and young
Maybe he’ll still be fat and wearing that godawful jumpsuit
Because he liked jumpsuits
And nobody will care.

Because if a God is running around like some kind of heavenly bookings agent
Finding people cabins and shit to live in
If It exists
I prefer Heaven not be exclusively populated

By de-sexed bisexuals, white bluesmen,
And a God who has to wear shoes to get around.

And maybe someday their hometown will be as safe
For fat dudes in rhinestones,
Black musicians
Queer people
Poor people
Maybe even people who don’t believe in God
But not without a little more breadth of imagination
When it comes to picturing Heaven.

Tomato sandwiches

My husband is from West Virginia and he says he never heard of anyone eating plain tomato sandwiches until he moved South.

I find that astonishing.

I come from a place where people argue about the correct condiment for a tomato sandwich. Duke’s mayonnaise or Hellmann’s? Or are you a complete heathen and use Miracle Whip? Is pepper too much of an addition?

For those not from around here, Miracle Whip is “salad dressing,” which is mayonnaise with added sugar. Southern cooks are infamous for adding a pinch of sugar to just about everything and this is a commercial variation on that theme. I loved it when I was a child but lost my taste for it 20 or 30 years ago.

Some friends and I had a conversation about tomato sandwiches, recently. I was amused to hear the voices from the Midwest and Northeast talking about tomato sandwiches with bacon, smoked turkey, cheese or other plants like mushrooms, avocados or onions.


Just, no.

That is not a tomato sandwich. That is a turkey sandwich with tomato. Or a BLT. Or a vegetable sandwich. Or a cheese and tomato sandwich. All delicious and delightful. But, NOT a tomato sandwich.

I acknowledge that to purists, the occasional sprouts and celery salt I enjoy are pushing the envelope. So is mayo made with basil infused olive oil. While they are very tasty, they are treading the razor’s edge where a tomato sandwich becomes Something Else.

If you are from some other part of the world, pick (from a garden, not a grocery bin) a tomato that slices like this:


A small one that requires several slices to cover the bread is fine, but this is a perfect sandwich tomato, minus the center cut I just ate.

Your bread may be toasted or not, mayo on one or both sides, salt and pepper are optional. You will need to stand over the sink to eat it because the tomato juice will drip from a truly ripe fruit.

THAT is the flavor of a Southern summer.