Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Forensics




Forensics



Shall we do an autopsy
on the thing that’s dead between us? 
Shall we look at the floor and say,
“The directionality of the blood splatter
is consistent with arterial spray?”

Which of us will play the coroner 
in this cold case reconstruction?

I say I have determined
the cause of death to be asphyxia.
The victim was burked, killed the way a lion 
sometimes smothers a buffalo, 
by clamping its jaws over the muzzle,

replacing breath for breath. I can tell
by the swollen heart, the eyes and lungs,

where the petechial hemorrhaging shows
all the hypoxic arguments ended in
our fingers breaking the hyoid bone, closing
the muzzle, crushing the words.You say 
it's plain by the rosy pink of the lividity

that the body has been subjected to
prolonged, intense cold. Decomp's begun;

the tissues begin to fail, the cornea dulls
so that looking at each other, no ectoplasmic
bridge springs up, nothing of affinity in eyes 
dead red, sightless wide. We've come
to the limit of forensics. No chromatography,

no strike of a DNA match
can light up this black puzzle.



June 2011



Posted for OneShotWednesday  at the inimitable OneStopPoetry


“...The term "burking" comes from the method William Burke and William Hare used to kill their victims during the West Port murders. They killed the usually-intoxicated victims by sitting on their chests and suffocating them by putting a hand over their nose and mouth, while using the other hand to push the victim's jaw up. The corpses had no visible injuries, and were supplied to medical schools for money.”




Image courtesy google image search, no credits available, originating site 


52 comments:

  1. agh...this sounds really dead and you may not even need an autopsy to prove it...intense and angry write..full of emotion...but sometimes there's still hope even if it looks VERY dead...just saying..

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  2. True Claudia--but the Undead might be worse. Thanks for dropping by so early.

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  3. My word, that's bleak, as, clearly, you intend it to be. The science-speak is a string of jarring euphemisms for something horrible, when the horror is being studiously shown the door, or at least a seat, over there, where it won't detract from the proceedings too much.

    I found this extremely difficult, emotionally, to read. It upset me.

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  4. You showed your emotinal side

    Interesting poem

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  5. oh snap...brutal hedge...marvelous in all the crime scene/MA terminology...but def that relationship is DOA>...

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  6. Great metaphor for a dead relationship...very powerful & intense piece..and it brought home what death is in a very vivid way..

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  7. A devastating and profoundly intelligent comment upon the forensic nature of the death of love I so admire your talent and profound perception. Warmest regards, James.

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  8. Too often we put these things on life support--hoping foolishly that they may come back to life.
    Not likely when rigor mortis has already set in.

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  9. amazing analogies and the very core of our most profound perceptions...death personified...this poem everyone shall truly ponder...

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  10. I did a brief in an All Art Friday a while ago about an artist who photographs crime scenes. Reading this poem is like seeing her images in words.

    You've taken this metaphor to the place no one wants to see.

    Just a suggestion: You have a perfect ending it at "We've come/ to the limit of forensics."

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  11. Really enjoyed reading this dark poem. Amazing use of morbid metaphor for the death of a relationship. Fascinating.

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  12. Thanks all. I'm about to start the rounds.

    @FB Appreciate the candor

    @James Thanks for that, and the same to you.

    @Maureen Thanks for the suggestion; perhaps I'll switch it around a bit later--leaving it for now as I have rewrite fatique

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  13. Yup, sounds like a dead relationship to me!
    What excellent imagery - as dark as it was, you brought intelligence and humor to this -really loved it.

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  14. Brilliant piece, Hedgewitch. I know the feeling exactly.

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  15. Hedge, this is amazing. Such great nuance and use of terminology. Second line is killer and opens the poem up to added layers. Love the line "it's plain by the rosy pink of the lividity" Fantastic poetry. A poetic CSI with a razor sharp edge.

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  16. Wait just one minute......
    It's the 3 day old larvae of the Ictalari Cycantipoxis!!!!
    You know what this means?
    The Vic was killed in Upstate New York...East of Buffalo...FOUR days ago and dumped here!
    Thats where we look for the Tattoo Shack that inked this guy....Take a picture of this Tatt and circulate a flyer.
    (The Tatt read...Whistledick)

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  17. You captured my divorce in verse.

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  18. @G-Man--why oh why didn't I think of that larva line??? Curse you G-man.(And you are one twisted, twisted dude.)

    Thanks all for taking this so well.

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  19. Nice little history lesson you leave off on there. Always disturbing to recall A. Just how disgustingly cruel some people can be, and B. just how easily the rest of us can be taken out...what an unsettling way to go, but certainly not the worst, I suppose...oy.

    Great use of language, and powerful, dark imagery to captivate both eyes and mind. Fabulous and brutal metaphor, all too effective.

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  20. "Whooooooooo are you? Who, who! Who, who!
    I really want to know..."

    Sorry had to get my CSI voice out of my head. Love the analytical tone to this, as all emotion has been snuffed out between the former lovers. A perfect description of detachment. Excellent poem.

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  21. Have loved your "handle" Hedgewitch forever @ Shay's and other good blogs.

    Nice atmospherics ya got over here...




    Aloha from Waikiki :)

    Comfort Spiral

    ><}}(°>


    ><}}(°>

    <°)}}><

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  22. Wow, this is one powerful write and I soooooo know the feeling. But I doubt it has ever been articulated this well. The medical terminology and CSI feel of it really works, Hedge. What brilliant writing!

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  23. What an incredibly brilliant write. THIS is pure poetry and you are SO talented!

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  24. So vividly sad and such an interesting, educational read. I loved it.

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  25. Sometimes, even doing the post-mortem on a dead relationship (of whatever kind) rekindles the negative. Still, this spoke to me, as I realized it was similar to my own past life experience....

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  26. Someone has been watching too much tv! LOL!

    A brilliant, digging into the mess of a dead relationship....the gore splatter doesn't spare anyone.

    Brilliant. Twisted and brilliant.

    Lady Nyo

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  27. wow, great metaphor usage. enjoyed it.

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  28. Clever, thoughtful exploration of death - using physical description as metaphor for emotional absence and the mystery of why both happen. It asks that we face this without the illusion of hope and pat answers. I like that technical dead ( rational/unemotional) words have been used to create the poem as it adds to the feel of the poem.

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  29. This is a really strong poem. The language is stunning - so cold and rational - you really show how hard it is to speak about unspeakable acts of violence

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  30. Hedgewitch, this is a gorgeous, gorgeous write. When I got to "burked" everything in me woke up, and the rest, with its glories of litany, the lingo of the lab, became the poetics of science, or science of poetics, or something. I am pretty sure I don't know what any of those words mean, but I have no need to look them up, because their sounds alone, and how they look, fill out this verse with satisfying beauty. "replacing breath for breath" and "swollen heart" are just inspired brilliance, and the whole conceit of it blows me away.

    [I bow.]

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  31. So very matter of fact and scientific...and yet my poor heart cries at the thought of such loss. You have captured the essence of the relationship's last stand and ultimate defeat, as the lion prepares to pounce. One day I will be as good as you! One day! :)

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  32. Wow! That was amazing....I didn't know you knew?

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  33. I wonder if forensic pathology is one of the least mutually-romanced fields in the human endeavor -- every kiss and slap examined on a freezing steel table. This is a hoot, really, using the trope so popularized in "CSI" to determine ultimate fault in what killed the shared third body of a relationship. Of course, the opinions are contradictory, and no amount of science is going to get beyond analysis of the heart's "black puzzle," which is exactly the form of paralysis parted lovers come to before they shrug and walk away, muttering "whatever." You really boned up on the jargon here. Half the hoot is in using forensic terminology to name the emotions which kill intimacy. Five bloody scalpels and a bloody-gauze bouquet to lay upon so much cold meat. What killed love? Hey man, it just died. - Brendan

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  34. Many many thanks all, and to those who've said they've been in the cold light of this particular autopsy room before, my true sympathy. Everyone's time and comments and insight and impressions are greatly valued.

    @Ruth: yes, that particular term had to get in here, as did the lion analogy, as soon as I ran across it in my reading for the piece. Thank you so much for your very kind words, of double value from one who is so exceptionally gifted herself.

    @Brendan: Yes, there's an undercurrent of the blackest humor here--I got the idea for the poem from the excruciatingly technical line in the first stanza about the "directionality of the blood spatter' which is a direct quote of what was coming out of a CSI actor's mouth as I walked through the living room where my husband was indulging his taste for the show. But, it also is as Fireblossom so accurately points out, a series of scientific euphemisms meant to distance the degrading, often brutal horrors of death in the emotional realm and make them bearable. Thanks for reading.

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  35. Just to read the first two lines is enough to strike a chill into the heart...When the truth is that no amount of forensic examination will give us the answer we so desperately need.

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  36. I read your poem directly after Claudia and Pete's. I'm being submerged in death, autopsy and burial today. The grim reaper sits in the next room and is looking for the t.v. remote. The dead woman's cat is sharpening her one good foot's claws and I feel the sun is drawing closer to the earth and gravity has doubled on my heart.
    Massive! (yet still somewhat funny, no?)
    Did you really whip this up Monday night. You are a genius! Gay

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  37. @Kerry: Exactly. Thanks for getting it so perfectly.

    @Gay: I can only imagine! Never hide the remote from the Reaper--he may start looking for something else to do. ;-) I had the germ/notes for the poem(about 6 lines) last week and worked them up Mon/Tues. It's amazing how much forensics info is out there, and how nauseatingly detailed some of it is. Thanks for taking time to read, dear friend.

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  38. Who needs NCIS. Great work, great analogy. Clever, smart, and well delivered. You remain one of my fav reads. The ending was perfect.

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  39. "replacing breath for breath." brilliant line! My 17 year old wants to study forensic anthropology...I have to forward this to her!

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  40. What a clever metaphor for the death of a relationship. I'd say there's not much hope of resuscitation. So well done, JoyAnn.

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  41. I never thought of aligning an autopsy with an ended relationship, but OMG, every word, every image was absolutely perfect metaphor. The swollen heart, eyes and lungs emanated particularly poignant sadness - all that love wasted, killed, crushed and stifled. This happened to me, for over 25 years, until the death happened and the rigor set in - it was just as you described it. Luckily, there was enough of me left to have a resurrection of this body which got off the autopsy table and left. My new life began. I LOVED this poem!!

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  42. You carry the tone of this perfectly.

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  43. Relate with a difference, absolutely this is exactly what you do when any relationship breaks down. Tear it apart, inspect the fotsam and move on, if you can. Great thinking here Joy!

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  44. Yes there was a time when I might have said something similar- now I just watch some shows
    as they unravel mysteries dragging clues from very troubled bodies-good piece!

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  45. Really liked this. Felt like Grissom, or Sinise, or What's that red haired guy's name.. anyhow the way you incorporated all this scientific/police speak in here without the unsettled feelings that sometime appear when words are forced was truly a creative feat..Anyway great job very nicely done:)

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  46. Wow! This was a very different tenor of poem than I'm used to reading from you! Very morbid but compelling, like having to look at an accident scene. The metaphor is brilliant.

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  47. I've not read a vast amount of your work, but this one has a voice I've not heard (more modern/humorous, albeit dark) and I rather like it. I'm certain that will sound odd... I loved what you did with the contrast/comparison of death analysis between body and emotion. A fabulous take on THAT old question, when/why did "we" die ~

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  48. ouch. vivid and ouch I can't read it again, especially after reading the footnote. Very well-written. That's why I can't read it again... great piece

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  49. I felt like I was back in the path lab looking at another Vic
    A murdered heart
    Excellent

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'Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance' ~Carl Sandburg