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Following the randy humor of Karen Nelson and the lyric earthiness of Walter Butts at the March Hoot, Matt Jasper lifted the curtain on his precious daughter at play:


She sets a tea for seen and unseen guests-
Empty chairs and stuffed pets.
She pours and talks from place to place.

By way of apology to the Easter Bunny
She says, "And Grampa Widdy will be here too
When he stops being DEAD."

She sort of sneers that last line-
Rolls her eyes and shifts her hips
As if she's bored and seventeen.

Yes, death is a minor inconvenience
That keeps one from attending tea parties
Until by special excavation they are cordially invited.

Those who in their poor taste died before Eudora could turn three
Must attend unendingly.
Must bend, must bow, must drink their tea.

                                                         --Matt Jasper

Eudora serves tea. We are pleased to be present. To see how at three death truly has no dominion. No excuse Grampa Widdy, or any of you other dead people out there. You are all invited-indeed, summoned-to the party. For Eudora has an agenda. We watch it develop as she moves from place to place, pouring for both the "seen" and "unseen." We hear it develop as the sibilance of the "s" sounds in stanza three-the "sneer" stanza-give way to the cacophonous "k" sounds of stanza four. The stanza that while acknowledging the fact of death, allows for "special excavation(s)." (Thus those crunching noises coming from the hard "c" and "k" sounds, and especially from the "x" merging with the "c" in "excavation.") And as the resurrected guests go on bending and bowing and drinking their tea at the poem's end, we are left to marvel at that apology to the Easter Bunny back in stanza two. Pagan fertility symbol with a Christianized name, the Bunny implicitly supports Eudora's clear-eyed view: life is not over when it's over-life is a cyclical mystery requiring tea parties. Death where is thy sting?

"Eudora" copyright 2004 by Matt Jasper. Matt lives in Farmington with 1 wife, 4 kids, 9 hens, and 1 dog. His poems have appeared in Grand Street, Fine Madness, Asylum, Exquisite Corpse, and elsewhere.

Note:  Poems from The Poetry Hoot should not exceed nineteen lines.


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