Daniel T. O’Brien

Crematory Operator of the 21st Century Explains Burning Bodies for a Living

                There are so many people inside me.

We rake out bones from an amphitheater
                of fading, matte of over
                                -ripe bodies. We are over-aware of

the shelf life of fecundity, the tastelessness
of celery, our sex drive.

The brain remains—too dense
even at eighteen-hundred degrees.

On the table we trace the dissolve
of hip bones, spines, skulls—

                it is a violent way
                                to dispose of a body.

We vacuum leftover fiber & powder off
the floor while humming a song, only now realizing
we’ve misheard the lyrics.

When we leave we light
                up & careen the familiar
                                road toward the edge of the wood.

We strip down to skin & wash off the bodies.

How a deer frays a bush to shed the velvet of his antlers.

Daniel T. O’Brien is a New York native currently living in Columbus, OH. His work has recently appeared in, or is waiting in the wings of, BLOOM, The Boiler, Prelude, Sequestrum, and Susquehanna Review. He was the 2014-15 recipient of the Helen Earnhart Harley Creative Writing Fellowship in Poetry from The Ohio State University, where he is currently an MFA candidate and serves as the Associate Poetry Editor for The Journal.