by James Laughlin

James Laughlin

One of us had to make the official identification of Dylan's body
at the Medical Examiner's Morgue
Brinnin and I tossed a coin and I lost
It was a crummy building in the hospital complex on First Avenue
and the basement, smelling of formaldehyde, was a confusion
of trolleys with rubber sheets covering bodies
A little old man in a rubber apron was in charge
He put on his glasses to read the name I had written on a slip
of paper and looked around, trying to remember
He lifted on sheet. "Is this him?" It wasn't
Two or three more who weren't "old Messy" of the pubs of SoHo
and Chelsea
Finally we found him and he looked awful, all bloated
"Insult to the brain" was what it said on the autopsy report, too
much booze for too many years
The old man sent me to a window to confirm the identification
where there was a little girl about five feet high, struggling with
the forms, using a pencil stub
She got me to write "Dylan" for her on the form because she had
never heard of such a name and couldn't spell it
"What was his profession?" she asked
I told her her was a poet; she looked perplexed
"What's a poet?" she asked
I told her a poet was a person who wrote poems
She put that down, and that's what it says on the form:
Dylan Thomas—a poet (he wrote poems).

Last updated November 02, 2022