ISSN 1551-8086
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   poets list
   Francisco Dominguez & Aire Celeste Norell
   Marie Lecrivain & Angel Uriel Perales
   Sheikha A.
   Steve Abee
   L. Ward Abel
   Carl Abt
   Hannah Adcock
   Elizabeth Addis
   Aderemi Adegbite
   Adeolu Emmanuel Adesanya
   Neil Aitken
   M.I Akande
   Shahd Al-Shemmari
   Lynn Albanese
   Gwyndyn Alexander
   Nicole Alexander
   Alaina Renee Alexander
   Scott Alexander
   Inalegwu Omapada Alifa
   Maureen Alsop
   Rafael Alvarado
   Steven Alvarez
   Veronica An
   Amy Anderson
   Zack Anderson
   Kristine Anderson
   G.D. Anderson
   Lori Anderson-Moseman
   Grace Andreacchi
   Renae Andruse
   Arlene Ang
   Roger Angle
   Stephen Anstay
   Azure Antoinette
   Theresa Antonia
   Aurora Antonovic
   Maria A Arana
   Carlye Archibeque
   Joseph Armstead
   Feral Artist
   Baron James Ashanti
   Charlene M. Ashendorf
    Askew
   Gregory Austin
   Shawn Aveningo
   maeghanne ayers
   Goodness Lanre Ayoola
   John-Patrick Ayson
   Jim Babwe
   Sophie Bachard
   Vasile Baghiu
   Bridget Bagne
   song-hue bahk
   Michael Baker
   Prerna Bakshi
   Anna Balint
   David Banuelos
   Jared Barbick
   J. Mae Barizo
   Peter Barlow
   Matthew A. Barraza
   James Barros
   Jeni Bate
   Jonathan Beale
   Richard Beban
   Gary Beck
   Gary Beck
   Lytton Bell
   Hakim Bellamy
   Michele Beller
   Laura Bellotti
   Stefanie Bennett
   Hayley Berariu
   Kevin Berger
   Lawrence Berger
   Mike Berger, Ph.D.
   Tom Berman
   luis cuauhtemoc berriozabal
   Craig Berry
   Nick Bertelson
    Besskepp
   Mary Rose Betten
   Cheryl Beychok
   Gwendolyn Beyer
   François Biajoux
   Jarvis Black
   Heitham Black
   Beau Blue
   Rose Mary Boehm
   Bonnie Bolling
   Julie Bolt
   Lek Borja
   Cristogianni Borsella
   Gerald Bosacker
   Amanda Boschetto
   Wendy Bourke
   Jack G. Bowman
   Jennifer Bradpiece
   Bob Bradshaw
   Marcielle Brandler
   Peter Branson
   Sumiko Braun
   Adam Bresson
   Quiana Briggs
   Jack Bristow
   paulo brito
   Alan Britt
   Michelle Brodeur
   Lynne Bronstein
   Charles Brooks
   Jason Sanford Brown
   zoey brown
   Adam Levon Brown
   Leah Brown
   Deborah Edler Brown
   Bob Browning
   Sir Mark Bruback
   MC Bruce
   Jeffrey Bryant
   Kate Buckley
   Robin M. Buehler
   Ron Burch
   Graham Burchell
   Maria Rose Burgio
   Betsy Burke
   Matt Burns
   Richard Burrill
   Tony Bush
   Zachary C. Bush
   Elissa Calvin
   Joseph Camhi
   Dana Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Velene Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Neil Campbell
   Luis Campos
   Janine Canan
   Lyn Cannaday
   Pasquale Capacosa
   Joey Capone
   Hélène Cardona
   Britton Laine Carducci
   D.J. Carlile
   Julia Carlson
   Alicia Carpenter
   Jonathan Carr
   Patricia Carragon
   Oscar Carrasco
   Jared Carter
   Michael Aaron Casares
   John Casey
   Lisa Castro
   Rachael Kelechi Caulker
   Nika Cavat
   Michael Caylo-Baradi
   Steve Ceniceros
   Michael Ceraolo
    Cerise
   Robert Cesaretti
   Cheryl Chambers
   Lita-Luise Chappell
   Shibani Chattopadhyay
   Lisa Cheby
   Beth Cheng
   Ralph-Michael Chiaia
   Juhi Chowdhury
   David Christensen
   Terry Clark
   Phil Clark
   Terry Clark
   Darice Clark
   Charles Claymore
   Jeanette Clough
   Kim Cochran
   Ed Coet
   Tobi Cogswell
   Megan Coker
   Bruce Colbert
   Merrill Cole
   Karen E. Cole
   Christopher Coleman
   Larry Colker
   Beverly M. Collins
   David Concepcion
   Christiane Conésa-Bostock
   Brendan Connell
   Alice Constantine
   Jack Cooper
   Flavia Cosma
   Rachel Coventry
   R. Paul Craig
   David Cravens
   William Crawford
   Natalie Crick
   Rosemarie Crisafi
   Carla Criscuolo
   Chris Crittenden
   Benjamin Crowley
   Susan Culver
   Joe Cyr
   Jim D Babwe
   Morgaine d'Abney
   Karen Corcoran Dabkowski
   Daniel Daian
    Dalton
   Catherine Daly
   Iris Dan
   Marie Lecrivain & Daniel Gallik
   Dan Danila
   Michelle Daugherty
   Piper Davenport
   Kathrine David
   Gareth Davies
   Holly Day
   Frank De Canio
   Gregory De Feo
   Steve De France
   J de Salvo
   J. de Salvo
   kumari de Silva
   Pijush Kanti Deb
   Shalla DeGuzman
   JD DeHart
   Diane Dehler
   Aurelius Demarco
   Darren C Demaree
   Gloria Derge
   Chris Derrico
   Lea Deschenes
   Maurice Devitt
   Theo Diamantis
   Mike Dias
   Martin Dickinson
   Edward J DiMaio
   Mark Dixon
   Peggy Dobreer
   Rosemarie Dombrowski
   Francisco J. Dominguez
   Linsly Donnelly
   Lisa Helene Donovan
   Kevin Doran
   Marvin Dorsey
   Marvin Louis Dorsey
   John Dorsey
   Laura A. Lionello & Douglas Richardson
   Doug Draime
   Donelle Dreese
   Dale Duke
   Jawanza Dumisani
   Henri Dumolet
   Max Dunbar
   Robin Wyatt Dunn
   t. joseph dunn
   Tyler Dupuis
    Durenda
   Walter Durk
   Ron Dvorkin
   Douglas Dvorkin
   Amitabh Vikram Dwivedi
   Alfie Ebojo aka alfie numeric
   Patricia J. Edwards
   Elisabeth Adwin Edwards
   Sabrina Edwards
   Miguel Eichelberger
   John Elison
   Julian Ellis
   Neil Ellman
   K. Eltinaé
   R.M. Engelhardt
   Margarita Engle
   Jon Epstein
   Sufi Erter
   Eli Eshaghian
   Michael Estabrook
   Alexis Rhone Fancher
   Richard Fein
   John Feins
   Emily Fernandez
   Melissa Fischer
   W.S. Fisher
   Jamie Asae FitzGerald
   Amelia Fleetwood
   Jake Fleshner
   John Jay Flicker
   David Flynn
   Arthur Charles Ford
   Liz Fortini
   Sesshu Foster
   Heather Fowler
   Clint Frakes
   Sarah Francois
   Amélie Frank
   Alex M. Frankel
   Allie Frazier
   E.L. Freifeld
   M. Frias Frias-May
   Suzanne Frost
   Delia J. Fry
   Elliott Gabay
   Steven Gabriel
   Timothy Gager
   Daniel Gallik
   J Gamble
   Ishmael Garay
   Jerry Garcia
   Daniel Garcia-Black
   Gabriella Garofalo
   Vince Garofalo
   Yvonne Garrett
   Nelson Gary
   Donna Gebron
   Ulrike Gerbig
   Janice Gero
   Ursula T. Gibson
   Rebecca Gimblett
   Tony Gloeggler
   Steve Goldman
   Vesna Goldsworthy
   Melanie Gonzalez
   Jeffrey Graessley
   Allison Grayhurst
   Jeff Green
   Timothy Green
   Jeanie Greensfelder
   Rhoda Greenstone
   Amos Greig
   John Greiner
   John Grey
   Summer Griffiths
   Danielle Grilli
   Brian Grillo
   John Grochalski
   Wendy Grosskopf
   Andrew Grossman
   Ro Gunetilleke
   Kenneth Gurney
   John R. Guthrie
   Debashish Haar
   Erik Haber
   Hedy Habra
   Tresha Faye Haefner
   Matthias Hagedorn
   James Hall
   Tom Hamilton
   David Harrington
   William Harris
   Matt Harris
   Dawnell Harrison
   J. Alana Hauenschild
   Kari J. Hayes
   KJ Hays
   Ann L. Healey
   Jessica Healy
   Eloise Klein Healy
   Jim Heavily
   Dan Hedges
   Paul Hellweg
   Samantha Henderson
   Jack Henry
   David Herrle
   JD Heskin
   Kenneth Hickey
   Jerry Hicks
   Marvin R Hiemstra
   Ed Higgins
   Carlos Hiraldo
   Sherri Hoffman
   Guy Hogan
   Ali Hosseiny
   Dave Houston
   David Howard
   Eric Howard
   Nate Howard
   Bryon D. Howell
   A J Huffman
   Hunter Lee Hughes
   Roger Humes
   Trista Hurley-Waxali
   Elizabeth Iannaci
   Thea Iberall
   Armine Iknadossian
   Gedda Ilves
   Alegria Imperial
   Victor D. Infante
   Victor Infante
   Augustus Invictus
   Susan Irvine
   Alexandra Isacson
   Natalie Itzhaki
   Amber Jacob
   Scott Jacobson
   Larry Jaffe
   Sonika Jaggi
   Emmanuel Jakpa
   Matthew James
   Andrea Janov
   T.A. Jennings
   Ivan Jenson
   Dani Jimenez
   Michael Lee Johnson
   Alex Johnson
   Lois P. Jones
   Strider Marcus Jones
   Tao Jones
   Georgia Jones-Davis
   Jasmin Jordan
   Quentin Josephy
   Liu Jue
   Ruth Juris
   Gene Justice
   Gary Justice
   Pete Justus
   Mikel K
   Scott C. Kaestner
   Sheema Kalbasi
   Peycho Kanev
   Rachel Kann
   Jay Kantor
   Paula Sfier Kattan
   Russ Kazmierczak
   James Keane
   Gretchen Keer
   Aaron Keller
   Collin Kelley
   Kamuran Kelly
   Raud Kennedy
   Bernard Kennedy
   Kathleen Kenny
   Stephen Kerr
   Hari Bhajan Khalsa
   Just Kibbe
   Jerome Kiel
   lalo kikiriki
   Robert S King
   Franklin Lafayette King
   Ashley King
   Sofia Kioroglou
   Rusty Kjarvik
   Kenny Klein
   LeAnne Kline
   Deborah P Kolodji
   Tracy Koretsky
   Edith Kornfeld
   George Korolog
   Dimitris P. Kraniotis
   Mark Krewatch
   Chris Krueger
   Amanda Krut
   Thomas Krämer
   Gerard Kuc
   Christopher Kuhn
   Donna Kuhn
   Len Kuntz
   Craig Kurtz
   Tammy Ho Lai-Ming
   Daniel Lambert
   Anthony Langford
   Donald Langosy
   Ray Lanthier
   Phillip Larrea
   Phillip Larrea
   Kasandra Larsen
   Wolf Larsen
   Ethan Latham
   Lisa LaTourette
   Marie Lecrivain & Laura A. Lionello
   Marianne LaValle-Vincent
   Kevin Lavey
   Judith A. Lawrence
   Eric Lawson
   Richard Leach
   Anne Lecrivain
   Marie Lecrivain
   Noah Lederman
   Kevin Patrick Lee
   Pete Lee
   Emma Lee
   N.M. Leepsa
   Alexandra Leggat
   Laura LeHew
   Gary Lehmann
   Sharmagne Leland-St. John
   Kevin LeMaster
   Michal Lemberger
   Kim Leng
   Roland Lesterin
   Tiffany Lettieri
   P.A. Levy
   Martin Lewis
   Cheyenne Lewis
   Anthony Liccione
   Cynthia Linville
   Laura Lionello
   Zachary Locklin
   Jessica Lopez
   Harold Lorin
   Tess. Lotta
   B.D. Love
   Adam Lowis
   Ron Lucas
   Andrew Lundwall
   Rick Lupert
   Suzan Lustig
   Radomir Luza
   Stosh Machek
   John MacKenna
   Sarah Maclay
   Stefanie Maclin
    Magdalena
   Gary Maggio
   Holly Magill
   Anthony Magistrale
   Marieta Maglas
   Suvi Mahonen
   Donal Mahoney
   Robert Maiolo
   Kelly Ann Malone
   Michael Malota
   Shahé Mankerian
   Angela Consolo Mankiewicz
   Chris Mansell
   H.E. Mantel
   April-May March
   Rick Marlatt
   John Marshall
   Agnes Marton
   Francis Masat
   Anthony Mason
   Lee Mason
   Hyatt Mason
   Johnny Masuda
   Mira N. Mataric
   Ellyn Maybe
   Michelle Mazzetti
   Mary L. Mazzocco
   Ted Mc Carthy
   Austin McCarron
   Terry McCarty
   Paul McConnell
   Brendan McCormack
   Deborah McCreath-Akbar
   Catfish McDaris
   Bray McDonald
   Karen J McDonnell
   Matt McGee
   Allen McGill
   Afric McGlinchey
   Terance James McGunigle
   David McIntire
   Cat Angelique McIntire
   david mclean
   Isobel McQueen
   Fernando Meisenhaulter
    Mephistopheles
   Corey Mesler
   Melissa Michaels
    Mike the Poet
   Scott Miller
   Richard Lee Miller
   Robert John Miller
   Hany Haggag Abdl Mobdy
   Richard Modiano
   William Mohr
   Sonnet Mondal
   Jason Monios
   Leslie Monsour
   Amanda Montei
   Patrick Mooney
   Carl Moore
   Greggory Moore
    Albert Lee Moran
   A.J. Morelli
   Christopher Mulrooney
   Frank Mundo
   Barbara-Marie Mundt
   Augusto Munoz
   Mark Murphy
   Craig Murray
   Kristine Ong Muslim
   JL Nathan
   Nimah Nawwab
   Leslie Maryann Neal
   Jason Neese
   Raghab Nepal
   Robbi Nester
   Mindy Nettifee
   Martina Reisz Newberry
   Beth Escott Newcomer
   Peter Nezafati
   Scott Nichols
   keith niles
   Dave Nordling
   Aire Celeste Norell
   Steve Norwood
   Laura Nye
   Charlotte O'Brien
   Toti O'Brien
   Suzanne O'Connell
   Katie O'Loughlin
   Peter O'Niell
   Tom O'Reilly
   Akor Emmanuel Oche
   A.J. Odasso
   Rita Odeh
   Kirsten Ogden
   Daniel Olivas
   Maurice Oliver
   Marc Olmstead
   Philip ONeil
   Nzingah Oniwosan
   Chika Onyenezi
   Nina Orlovskaya
   Sergio Ortiz
   David Ishaya Osu
   Scott Thomas Outlar
   Holly Painter
   Lizbeth Palma
   Heather Palmer
   Greg Patrick
   Miss Natalie Patterson
   David E. Patton
   Tim Peeler
   Steve Pelcman
   Angel Perales
   Alice Pero
   Angela J. Perry
   Helen Peterson
   Brenda Petrakos
   Adam Phillips
   James G Piatt
   Rebecca Pierce
   Gareth Pike
   James Pinkerton
   Rob Plath
   Kushal Poddar
   Contributors to poeticdiversity
   Meg Pokrass
   Traian Pop Traian
   Bethany W Pope
   Wayne E. Popelka
   Elisha Porot
   Adrian Potter
   Ren Powell
   Frank Praeger
   Luke Prater
   Kristena Prater
   Shannon Prince
   Stephany Prodromides
   Hattie Quinn
   Octavio Quintanilla
   Beverly J. Raffaele
    Raindog
   Catherine Rajca
   Steve Ramirez
   Mauricio Alejandro Ramos
   Vishnu Rao
   Ingrid Rattay
   James Rauff
   Kasey Ray
   Bili Redd
   Brian Redfern
   Marie Rennard
   Luivette Resto
   E.W. Richardson
   John Richmond
   Francisca Ricinski-Marienfeld
   Kevin Ridgeway
   Lillian Ridgeway
   Dee Rimbaud
   Elijiah Rios
   Cat Risinger
   Ariel Robello
   Ebi Robert
   John D Robinson
   Paula Rodriguez
   Nydia Rojas
   Daniel Romo
   Emily Rose
   Rina Rose
   Diana Rosen
   Poet-broker Rosenthal
   Alison Ross
   James Robert Rudolph
   Walter Ruhlmann
   Gina MarySol Ruiz
   Cody Rukasin
   Cody Rukasin
   Ashley Rumery
   David W. Rushing
   Maryann Russo
   Sonya Sabanac
   Howard Sage
   Russell Salamon
   April Salzano
   Bryan Sanders
   Lisa Marie Sandoval
   Cecile Sarruf
    Sasparella
   Ethan Sassouni
   John Saunders
   Lorraine Sautner
   Rati Saxena
   Iftekhar Sayeed
   Frances Schiavina
   Kim Schroeder
   Carol Schwalberg
   Peter Schwartz
   Sondra L. Scott
   Ken Scott
   David Scriven
   Justin Scupine
   LB Sedlacek
   Lisa Segal
   Anthony Seidman
   Anthony Seidman
   Oleg Semonov
   John W Sexton
   Jack Allen Shafer
   Dahn Shaulis
   Tom Sheehan
   Jake Sheff
   Steve Shickman
   Nancy Shiffrin
   June Shiitake
   Ferrari Silverpowder
   Rishan Singh
   Durlabh Singh
   Kalpna Singh-Chitnis
   Apryl Skies
   Knute Skinner
   Sam Skow
   Ratpack Slim
   Lee Sloca
   Carol Smallwood
   Clinton Smith
   Danielle Smith
    smzang
   Kate Soto
   Ghetto Speare
   Jeanne Marie Spicuzza
   Richard Spuler
   Matina Stamatakis
   Jan Steckel
   Julia Stein
   Eric Steineger
   Carl Stillwell
   Bruce Stirling
   Alex Stolis
   Karr Stratynberg
   Kevin Stricke-9
   Keith Stump
   Daniel Suffian
   Annette Sugden
   J. C. Sullivan
   Dee Sunshine
   Mani Suri
   John Duncan Talbird
   Sister Taxi Hopscotch
   Mark Taylor
   Barbara A. Taylor
   Jonathan Taylor
   Allen Taylor
   Paul Kareem Tayyar
   Alene Terzian
    The Unarmed Man
   A. Thiagarajan
   G. Murray Thomas
   Lynne Thompson
   David Thornbrugh
   Kari Thune
   Sarah Thursday
   Ilona Timoszuk
   Tim Tipton
    TJungle
   Chrys Tobey
    tolbert
   Imani Tolliver
   A. TOMIC
   Anthony Torchia
   Mary Torregrossa
   Evan Traiger
   Davide Trame
   Tri Tran
   Ryan Tranquilla
   Alain Marcel Treadaway
   Pedro Trevino-Ramirez
   Ben Trigg
   Paul Tristram
   Maja Trochimczyk
    Troy
   The TruthHearse
   Tatiana Tulskaya
   Yelena and Roman Tunkel
   John Turi
   Danny Uebbing
   Amy Upham
   Amy Uyematsu
   Philomena van Rijswijk
   Gene van Troyer
   Wanda Vanhoy Smith
   Brenda Varda
   Luis Rubio Vargas
   Carmen Vega
   Ms. Veronica
   Papa Vic
   Clee Villasor
   Ajise Vincent
   Curran D. Vinson
   Jason Visconti
   Anca Vlasopolos
   Daniela Voicu
   Claire Walker
   toren wallace
   r.k. wallace
   Evan Walsh
   Sharieff Walters
   John Wariner
   Deborah L Warner
   Christopher Watkins
   Brian Watson
   Lafayette Wattles
   Charlie Weber
   Ellen Webre
   Justin Weiler
   Viola Weinberg
   Florence Weinberger
   Desmond Weindorf
   Cindy Weinstein
   Denise R. Weuve
   Rev. Dave Wheeler
   Leigh White
   Megwynn White
   Kelley White
   J.T. Whitehead
   Claire Williams
   John Sibley Williams
   Patrick Williamson
   Martin Willitts, Jr
   Robert D. Wilson
   Jessica Wilson
   Amye Wilson
   Alicia Winski
   Tyler Joseph Wiseman
   Joseph Wistren
   Wayne Wolfson
   Terry Wolverton
   Nina Womack
   Seth Woolf
   Kirby Wright
   Gianna Wurzl
   Abigail Wyatt
   John Yamrus
   Müesser Yeniay
   Julie Yi
   Britney Young
   Gregory T. Young
   Omar ZahZah
   Mariano Zaro
   Michael Zeltser
    
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Carol Schwalberg
November 2015
   

 

Dying Neatly

    Beryl had her first brush with death when she was twelve. She wasn’t fighting still another attack of bronchitis, but her 94-year-old great-grand Aunt Fiona had just passed, and Beryl’s Mom asked her to help settle the estate.
    Fiona had outlived spouse, children, and siblings, and her dozens of living relatives generally kept their distance. Mom was the only one to visit on a regular basis. Fiona’s once-huge nest egg had shrunk to the size of a pinto bean, and her will left all her money--three thousand two hundred and thirty-seven dollars in a credit union account--to Mom.
    The old lady also named Mom executor. It was Mom who had to dispose of the chairs, tables, sofas, beds, china, glassware, paintings and myriad knickknacks Fiona had accumulated during a long, acquisitive life and stuffed into a one-bedroom apartment.
    Now Mom had a heart as big as Texas, but the organizing skills of an adolescent gnat. Confusion beset her. “What shall I do now?” she asked her terse, logical daughter.
    “Hold a memorial” was Beryl’s short, snappy answer.
    And so it happened that two weeks later, dozens of nephews, nieces and cousins of various removes shoehorned themselves, and sometimes their children and dogs, into Fiona’s cramped flat.
    These relatives immediately noticed the years had transformed what once seemed like a pile of dated rubbish into a gold mine of collectibles. Some pieces even qualified as genuine antiques. Nearly all these goods translated into wads of cash so family members clamored for keepsakes they never planned to keep.
    The uproar sent Mom into a second, deeper, state of confusion. Who deserved what? How could she choose? She had no idea, and before she took the time to think out the problem or turn to Beryl for guidance, she blurted, “Take whatever you wish.”
    Those four words unleashed a tornado of greed. In the miniscule dining area, husky, deep-voiced Cousin Clementine grabbed a china creamer in the shape of a cow at the very moment willowy, soft-spoken Great-grand-niece Mary Alice did the same. Although both women already owned creamers, they lusted for the cow. Clementine’s greater heft and deeper voice won the day and the ceramic bovine.
    At the same time, Skippy, a peppy six-week-old terrier with a keen sense of smell, sniffed a platter of salami canapés and broke away from Tommy, his five-year-old master. The puppy ran and Tommy gave chase. Both hit a pair of women arguing over a cut glass fruit bowl. The women lost their hold on the dish, and it crashed to the floor.
    Nor were the male relatives indifferent to the wealth of goods. Great-grand nephew Oswald and Fifth Cousin Bertram, who both ran antique shops, tussled over a fan-back chair they suspected dated back to the 1820s. Oswald held the shaky back and Bertram the loose legs. They huffed and they puffed until the chair fell apart.
    Scenes like these repeated themselves all over the apartment. Lifelong friendships turned into enmity. There was little bloodshed, but the floor was strewn with chips of mahogany, shards of glass and china, and shreds of lace and linen. After the others left, Mom asked Beryl, “Why did it come to this?”
    “Lack of planning,” the girl said. “Everyone should make a list of every item they own, and next to it, the name of the person they would like to receive it. This way you avoid confusion and confrontation. The whole point is to die neatly.”
    Mom objected. “Many people won’t go to the trouble.”
    “I’ll talk to them.”
    For ten years Beryl did nothing of the kind for she was so comely young men occupied all her spare time. At twenty-two she met Bud. He was as smart and attractive as she and much more charming. Within a month, he proposed marriage, and she said yes. Matrimony would give her the time to lecture the whole family on post mortem planning.
    Mom was Beryl’s first convert, but then the girl turned to Grandfather Nigel. She asked if he had written a remembrance list for settling his estate. When he answered no, she delivered her litany. “Everyone should write down every item they own, and next to it, the name of the person they would like to receive it. This way you avoid confusion and confrontation. The whole point is to die neatly.”
    Nigel chuckled and shook his head. “Imagine someone your age worrying about a death that may not occur for decades.” He launched into hearty laughter that turned into a coughing fit. Beryl explained she and Bud had a wedding to plan, and she kissed Nigel goodbye. A year later, he died of lung disease.
    His widow Honoria almost perished of grief. Beryl asked about her health.
    “Not so hot,” Honoria said.
    “Then shouldn’t you make plans for settling the estate?”
    “I’ve made a will.”
    “What about all the goods you leave behind?” Beryl said.
    “That matter will take care of itself,” Honoria said.
    Beryl delivered her litany. “Everyone should write down every item they own, and then, next it, the name of the person they would like to receive it. This way you avoid confusion and confrontation. This way you avoid confusion and confrontation. The whole point is to die neatly.”
    “I trust my family. Everything will progress smoothly.” Honoria drew lips into a tight line. The matter was closed.
    Seven months later, Honoria was dead. The memorial turned into the usual family fracas.
    Mom was distraught all over again, Beryl looked like virtue rewarded. “I’ll have to make my speech to Aunt Felicity.”
    She caught her mother’s sister, who reported on the world scene, just before an assignment to Katmandu. “I have only fifteen minutes to catch my plane,” her aunt said. “Talk fast.”
    Beryl delivered her litany almost as one word. “Everyone should make a list of every item they own, and next to it, the name of the person they would like to receive it after death. This way you avoid confusion and confrontation. The whole point is to die neatly.”
    “Sounds great,” Felicity said. “I’ll do it when I have time.”
    Five months later, a bush pilot ferrying Felicity to a remote Alaskan village realized his small plane was out of gas just as it plunged into the Bering Sea. From then on, Beryl’s aunt had an eternity of time.
    The news shook Beryl. Death was always on the prowl. She would have to shake Bud out of his usual indifference. “You know the speech.” She began, “Everyone should write down every item they own--”
    Her husband cut in, “And next to it, the name of the person they would like to receive it after death. Yeah, I’ve heard you recite that litany to your grandparents, your aunt, our kids and the spouses of our kids. Let me see the list you’ve made out. Or is it a case of ‘Do what I say, not what I do?’”
    Beryl turned red with rage. How could he doubt her? “I took care of my own stuff years ago. I keep the list in the top right-hand drawer of my desk. Have you drawn up yours yet?” Bud shook his head. “Then you’d better start.”
    Bud turned back to his newspaper. “That will take a lot of thought.”
    Beryl was furious. She also felt an attack of bronchitis coming on. “Bud!” she shouted.
    Her husband lifted his head from the team standings. “I have plenty of time. During my last physical, Dr. Harris said I should live to be a hundred.”
    As it turned out, Dr. Harris had more skill with his stethoscope than his crystal ball. He failed to foresee a huge truck crashing into Bud’s puny hybrid with Bud inside it.
    Bud and Beryl had enjoyed a good marriage. He was her friend, confidante, lover, and the chief taster and critic of her fanciest dishes. Their children were grown and gone now. Beryl had no one to cook for. The stove stood unused, the kitchen implements untouched. What was the point of broiling a steak without Bud to point out it needed a sprinkle of sea salt?
    Beryl decided to go to the senior center for lunch and sociability. The food turned out to be only marginally tasteless, but some of the women she met there were bright and interesting. She enjoyed their company.
    One day, as the women were discussing same-sex marriage, a wisp of a man introduced himself as Waldo and asked if he could join in.
    Man-crazy Roz flashed an incandescent smile and patted the empty chair beside her. People-pleaser Annie murmured, “Yes, of course.”
    Beryl sized up the little fellow as gay and asked, “Have you had any personal experience?”
    “With marriage, yes, but in matters of the heart, I still prefer the ladies.”
    There were sighs of relief all around the table.
    Waldo became a regular, adding rough-hewn common sense to their high-flown discussions. He was polite to everyone, but perhaps a bit more so to Beryl. In the ladies’ room, Annie smiled roguishly. “I think Waldo has an eye for you.”
    Beryl examined herself in the mirror over the sink and laughed. “Men don’t have an eye for gray hair and wrinkles.”
    Annie shook her finger at Beryl. “You’re still a very pretty woman.”
    Beryl dismissed what Annie said until Waldo asked her to join him for coffee. Annie was right. The man did seem to like her.
    Cups of cappuccino led to glasses of Chianti. Finally, Waldo screwed up the courage to ask her to dine at his place.
    His small bungalow was a shrine to rough-and-tumble male housekeeping. Dust kittens and piles of clothing lay everywhere. Waldo caught Beryl looking at the large unmade bed. The man said, “I wanted to see which sheets you wanted.”
    Beryl bit her tongue and guided him through basic bed-making. Waldo rushed over to embrace her, grabbing her so hard she lost her balance and fell onto the bed.
    At that point she discovered that his hair and build might be wispy, but one crucial part of him was not. In short, they became lovers.
    Sex was no problem, but what would they do in the brief time between sessions of love-making? She swam; he played tennis. He liked bowling; she favored art movies. Reality shows glued Beryl’s eyes to the TV screen; Waldo preferred sports.
    They decided to devote more time to sex and compromise on the rest. Beryl bought a tennis racket and Waldo found swim shorts; she learned to bowl and he napped while his sweetheart read subtitles. Finally she asked him to move into her tidy house. Neither wanted to marry, and they agreed to leave their wills as they were.
    A month into their unmarried bliss, Beryl realized the two of them had never had a conversation longer than three sentences. She was dying of boredom. She felt the first inklings of a bronchitis attack, and soon afterward she developed a case of pneumonia so severe it warranted a stay in the hospital and a round of antibiotics
    A week later her doctor took Waldo aside. “None of the pills seems to have any effect. I can only prescribe medications to keep her comfortable.”
    He turned to leave, but Waldo caught him by the sleeve. “Isn’t she going to get well?”
    The doctor shrugged. “We can always hope.”
    Waldo wiped away tears and returned to Beryl’s bedside. Suddenly, she asked about his remembrance list. He blurted out the awful revelation: Waldo had not handled the chore, nor had any member of his family.
    Within seconds, Beryl threw back the covers and struggled to her feet. There was no time to waste. She would ignore her symptoms and instruct these people how to die neatly. Now she had plenty to live for.
    Beryl went to work with a vengeance, but all the proselytizing wore her out and eventually shortened her stay on earth.
    After the funeral, Waldo rushed to her desk. Eager to get his hands on Beryl’s own remembrance list and carry out her wishes, he unlocked the top right-hand drawer and found bills, canceled checks, and finally, a slim folder marked “Remembrance List.” Inside there was a single page with only a few entries and the cryptic instructions, “Find time to write more.”
    Now Waldo faced the problem Beryl wanted to avoid. Day after day, he pondered and he wondered what was the right thing to do. Finally he set upon a course of action Beryl had never considered but squared with her kind, giving nature. He kept for himself whatever he could use and packed the rest neatly into boxes he donated to charity.

copyright 2015 Carol Schwalberg