Brodsky is a former teacher and the author of over 60 volumes of poetry and 23 volumes of prose. One of his books, You Can't Go Back, Exactly, won the award for best Michigan State University's Center for Great Lakes Culture best poetry book award. The World Waiting to Be is his latest poetry collection. He lives in St. Louis.
© 2009 Louis Daniel Brodsky
The Genius Behind Nil-Nisi-Bonum Cards
Death, to nail it down, is his bread and butter,
His prime and only livelihood,
The hook upon which he hangs his existence,
As a composer of greetings for the recently deceased,
A sensitive spirit, he, who heads up the copy department
At Nil-Nisi-Bonum Cards, headquartered in Valley Park, Mo.
To say that he has a "feel" for the just-right phrase
Capable of comforting the newly arrived to the "other side"
Would be to sell way too short his stellar talents,
His ability to soothe souls having crossed that great divide
Between life and the vast, everlasting afterlife,
Freshly taken from the midst, the medias res, of the quick.
For three decades, he's been Nil-Nisi-Bonum's go-to man,
The lead architect of its various campaigns to profit from the dead,
By creating cheap cards that communicate with loved ones
In "the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns."
And his success has been tremendous, nothing short of stupendous,
Such is his uncanny affinity with his subject matter.
The principals of Nil-Nisi-Bonum Cards can't begin to understand
How he crafts bites, squibs, encomiums, bromides, pieties
Whose poignance and vicarious empathy
Never fail to hit home, reach deep, to the elegiac core,
Touch those just getting acquainted with defunctness -
Consolations, regrets, sorrows, requiescat in paces -
The stuff of down-to-the-salt-of-the-earth human grief,
Expressed in words wrought with enlightened humanity,
Conveying the pain of those left behind, for those lately passed:
"Dearly departed wife, my shattered heart
Can't find the right beat, to emulate your stilled metronome.
As such, I'm having a pacemaker implanted, to keep me regular.";
"Oh, my severely, dearly missed husband of over sixty-five years,
The drear absence of your wheezing, hacking, gasping for breath
Drives me crazy. The severe silence connects me to you.";
"Child of mine, taken at stillbirth, as if by divine design,
Know that though nothing can bring back your flesh,
You live in every waking thought I have of you, when I eat sashimi.";
"Sweet 'Missy,' 'Suzie Q,' 'X-Chromosome Essie,'
Surrogate mother of our in-vitro-scrambled ovum and sperm,
We love you, despite your fatal third-trimester miscarriage.";
"Dear Innocencia Soledad Maria Llena de Gracias,
Had you not been ravaged by scorpions, emigrating to the U.S.,
I wouldn't be having such joy, raising your seven kids, in Juarez."
This humble sampling of his greatest work
Belies the precocious genius of multitudinous creations
That flow yet, from his vital, fertile mind, after three fruitful decades,
During which he's pretended to exist, traffic, thrive among the living,
Albeit being every bit as dead as the deadest among the recipients
Of his immortal Nil-Nisi-Bonum death-wishes.
All work is property of Louis Daniel Brodsky.
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