The Nice Man's Hearse
James Turgenine
July 8, 1982

"The Nice Man's Hearse" is a prose poem written by James Turgenine.


In the maelstrom, each remembrance bows out to a single urge: compulsion with immense intemperance makes each body's lifestream surge to battle the enduring Foe: the one locked-up desire you kept when you were young and wept and slept for Granny Smith who passed in March. The sepulchral, obsidian arch that rose above that gray void yard like two black spades upon the card with which you mapped your family's places, designating all the spaces they should stand on burial plots. You marked each one with Mom's pen's dots.

You put the pen back in her purse and climbed into the nice man's hearse. It rattled to each AM tune.

"I think I'll need a new car soon," the nice man said. "When something dies, you always hear the babies' cries in newborn wards around the globe." To show the sound, he flicked the lobe that hung down from his ear and smiled.

Silence broke. Your mother screamed, "So tell me, where's this fucking child?"

Your dad just gripped the armrest tight and whispered, "He'll be dead tonight. This hearse is his for one more hour. His plot is by your Granny's tower."