“packing for the afterlife” by Joel Best

“packing for the afterlife”

my husband and i had suitcases ready
for when the angels spoke
and we walked to heaven
we left the suitcases by the front door
of the house that had for years
been home
my husband’s suitcase was sturdy green canvas
mine was sturdy brown
we bought them before the prices went crazy
before the angels found their collective voice
and whispered with such intensity
to the masses
we filled the suitcases with everything necessary
to walk so far and high
extra socks and underwear
canned food and bottled water
vitamins and aspirin
paperback books
matches and hunting knives
coiled rope to scale the cliffs outside the pearly gates
my husband wanted to take along a gun
but i said no
one time in twenty a gun may save your life
which leaves the other nineteen
and in any event
we had no need for self-defense
in heaven
where only the angels
are armed

by Joel Best

Editor’s Note: The surreality of this poem gives it a sense of both purpose and the feeling of life slipping away. It seems the afterlife is just as edgy as life; why else would we need armed angels?


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