Grady's Reviews > Postscripts to the Dead

Postscripts to the Dead by Pris Campbell
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it was amazing

Pris Campbell has an uncanny sense of approaching a topic that for many is one rather avoided and make that topic into conversational, comfortable songs. Her grace with words, with expanding our acceptance of the inevitable by tossing us some tidbits of humor (egad, you say, how could she joke about the unjokeable?), and then gradually lead us into her private spaces of still-mending bruises and old scars, and make us feel that it really is alright to talk about death.

Campbell opens this delicious battery of poems she titles PSOTSCRIPTS TO THE DEAD letting us know that she has made groups of elegies – celebrities (Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Hemingway, Paul Newman are a few), old frends and lovers, and relatives. And while she does not defile the memory of any of these categorized memories or imaginings, she does allow us to see the degree of changing angst from her original nods to the infamous to the little choke of throat pain when she shares those who have been real to her.

Examples: from the Celebrities section she offers the following:

Chats With Eleanor

Fairy Godmothers with ample laps
and June Cleaver faces slid down the rabbit hole
of old dial-up phones, ten cent colas, Betsy Wetsys,
and scratchy LPs an innocent lifetime ago.
Try strutting about nowdays in tiara and starched skirt,
waving a wand---the madhouse will open its jaws
and swallow you whole, but
my fairy godmother is clever.
She dresses like Eleanor Roosevelt,
talks like Eleanor., looks like Eleanor,
says she is Eleanor, back from the dead.
Each night she brings me hot chocolate, sits,
tell stories about quiet fireside chats,
her husband's withered legs and how much
she thought he loved her before Lucy.
She reminds me to floss every night
and to be sure to carry an umbrella
should sudden thunderstorms threaten.
She emphasizes that one must learn to
be brave in cold emptied beds
ever so much as on battlefields,
littered with the corpses of those
who once called our name.

From her Old Friends and Lovers comes this profoundly moving poem:


He swallows one pill with a swig of scotch, sits.
Starts typing on an old Royal typewriter.
He takes a handful of pills, types again,
pulls a letter out of the Royal and sets it on the table.
Procol Harum sings on the radio.
He turns up the volume, takes the rest of the pills,
undresses, poses on the bed like Marilyn Monroe.
The camera closes in on a small brown gecko
watching from the bedroom wall.
Lights dim to gray, then black.
I imagine his death this way.
Of course he could have done it in any order.
Undressed before typing.
Lain down before swallowing.
The police found him nude.
He left me books in his suicide note.
Gay, he was never able to exit the closet,
He drank too much, laughed when nothing
was really all that funny.
His way of smothering the flames.
His death as a movie:
my own flame stopper.
He was twenty-five.
Some geckos live longer.

And from Relatives she leaves us with the following:


You wear my tears
as a garland.
They glisten, stars now
in the solar system.
Your heart was too big.
It exploded, tossing you
to the bathroom floor.
Mother dressed us like twins
one summer. Her angels.
Do you remember?
Homeless for years, voices
taunting, you slept in dark
parks of rape or bartered
your body for a warm overnight.
You let it roll off--
that waterfall of mean times.
I search tonight for you in the sky,
dear cousin. The wind is plump
with your deep southern drawl.

Pris Campbell may wear the face of benefiting form the joy of living, but she has tended to much loss in her life and the fact that she can bring these poems to us like flowers to a graveside makes her someone to hear and to remember and to follow in her gentle steps.

Grady Harp
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
October 18, 2011 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Pris Campbell Grady, thank you for such a beautiful review of my book. I appreciate it so much.

Grady The pleasure is mine, Pris. You just get better and better!

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