Joe Medeiros


A Light-Hearted Post-Mortem

My friend’s father-in-law died the other day.

We found that out from my in-laws
who check the obituaries
the way I check the daily sports scores.

This got Justine and me thinking:
What are we going to do when we die?

Neither of us is crazy about being buried.
Justine’s claustrophobic.
And I don’t like the idea of
maggots and bugs eating my flesh.
I don’t even like getting spider bites.
Plus I don’t want to be dug up
in a thousand years and displayed in a museum.
Hanging there all day, getting looked at?
I’m way too self-conscious for that.

Justine doesn’t want to be cremated.
She says she’s afraid of fire.
I, on the other hand, wouldn’t mind it.
I think cremation’s kind of noble.
Especially if done like
the ancient Romans on a funeral pyre.
Or like the Vikings with my friends
shooting flaming arrows at my funerary barge.

I asked Justine if she’d do the thing
Hindu women did when their husbands died—
throw themselves on the fire with them.
She said she’d have to think about it.
I think she said that just to be polite.

I asked if she’d want to be mummified.
She thought that sounded promising.
But is mummification even a thing anymore?
When I buried my parents,
I don’t recall that being an option.

I always thought it amazing
that Egyptian mummifiers
would stick a rod with a hook on the end
in the deceased’s nostril, stir it around in
the dead person’s skull and pull out the brains.
That makes me think twice
about picking my nose
without trimming my nails first.

If mummification’s out, what’s left?
I asked Justine if she’d want
to be freeze dried or better yet—
dipped in chocolate.
Freeze dried, maybe.
Especially if it was summer.
But dipped in chocolate, no.
That would draw ants.

Personally, in the end,
I just want to be bronzed.

Joe Medeiros is the former headwriter of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, a post he held for 17 of the 22 years he worked for Jay and NBC. Joe has been writing poetry for much of his life and this is Joe’s second work to be published in Light. He has also had humor published in Humor Outcasts, UP Magazine, Onethebus, and Exquisite Corpse. Joe has also contributed humor material to books by Jay Leno and Steve Schirripa of The Sopranos. Joe lives in California and is the writer/director of the documentary Mona Lisa Is Missing.