Epitaph for Gregor Samsa

The cleaning lady disposed of your husk so quickly,
no one paid you tribute, not Grete with her resentful violin,

especially not your overjoyed parents, so far past disappointment
they didn't even want to visit a grave, much less

pay for a plot. With no stone to mark, this postscript
will endure on the wallpaper next to your photo of the woman

wearing furs. Each time you climbed onto the bedroom walls
and circled her, you missed the message in your longing,

not to kiss but to become her. Human or insect,
you were never introspective. In your honor

we won’t wonder where your corpse may be resting,
whether you entered heaven. Such inquiries didn’t suit you.

The reasons for your transformation didn’t intrigue you
any more than your nature. Instead, we will beware

your friendless life and its consequence, the dark bedroom
where you should have shed your carapace and escaped.

Now, wherever you may scuttle, Gregor, wrap the fur boa
around yourself. Molt once more: this time, into your true form.


Volume 12.1 - June 2019

Michael Walsh’s books include The Dirt Riddles, winner of the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry, and Creep Love, forthcoming from Autumn House Press. His poems and stories have appeared in journals such as Alaska Quarterly Review, Cimarron Review, Cincinnati Review, Green Mountains Review, and Prairie Schooner. He lives in Minneapolis, MN.