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“Heart in a Box”
Marjorie Maddox (bio)

No picnic cooler look-alike, the kind
transporting a dead man’s heart

to my father in ’93 after his thirty
years of near-death when

the blizzard-driving really-
dead anonymous donor

said Yes to a life not his. No,
today’s latest medical advance

keeps the dead’s bloody
valentine pa-pa-pumming

all the way to the sterile
stretched-out-on-the-table almost-

corpse, knocked out while the crying
bystanders pray for mercy, for miracles,

and outside in the real bloody
world of Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights,

Dallas, my town/yours,
no heart pa-pa-pums

in Alton, Philandro, Lorne, Michael,
Brent, Patrick, Michael J.,

while waiting bystanders pray
for “advances” and “miracles.”

And no heart pa-pa-pums in the dead-
silence of the dug-up ground

where they’ll be transplanted,
bloody organs in another box,

because some said No
to a life not theirs,

while others—between the beats
and the beatings, the rat-a-tat-tats,

and the pa-pum, pa-pum, pa-pums—
tried to say Yes.

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