On the Outside, There is a Heart—And on the Inside, There is an Old Friend’s Funeral.


“And a man newly dead would really know. And a poet would bear witness to that knowledge, if only he could work out the way of getting it.”—Unknown.

for Chris Gerber

In the fall, it is cold air and red leaves. I lift
the brittle bodies into my hands, crushing them,
the remnants sticking to my gloves,
others floating off—some on the wind, some
back to the ground, to where they’d first fallen.
These are the questions I have of the afterlife—
some falling, some floating, as if their remains
had been transformed into something lighter.
I was told once that only the dead would know, and
the rest of us could become poets, searching
for the answers to what only you would know—
Chris, only you could tell me, but now
you are gone, and the pain is like silt and sea water,
the fish diving for better water and finding none,
their bodies floating on the surface—look at the
kaleidoscope they make. Look at the parade
they’ve left for you, not one for every passing year
but one for every passing memory, murmur,
your passing—it looks skyward.


About mckenzielynntozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives and writes in Indiana, where she works as a virtual assistant, editor, and freelance writer via her self-started business, MLT Creative. She received her MFA in Poetry from Western Michigan University, where she worked as the Layout and Design Editor for New Issues Poetry and Prose and as an Assistant Poetry Editor for Third Coast. She previously completed her B.S. in Secondary English Education and B.A. in English, with a Concentration in Writing, at Indiana University South Bend, where she worked as the Managing Editor for 42 Miles Press. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Emerge Literary Journal, Encore Magazine, Thank You for Swallowing, The Spooklet, Sleet Magazine, and Analecta, among others; and her book reviews and essays have appeared on The Rumpus and Motherly. When not writing, she enjoys art and music, and the simple mathematics of being a wife of one, a mama of two, and a cat-mom of three. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com. View all posts by mckenzielynntozan

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