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Martha and Mel Wait for the Elevator | A Poem by Donal Mahoney

I died from a rattlesnake bite
and found myself in line with
other zombies in front of a bank
of elevators, the doors opening
and closing as if by metronome.

Every time a door opened a voice
called the names of 12 zombies
who boarded the elevator single file.
As the doors closed, Led Zeppelin
or Bing Crosby played in the background
depending on whether the elevator went
up or down according to the light
winking above the door.

The rest of us waited our turn
as more zombies arrived
and lined up behind us.
I saw no one I knew except
a couple who looked like
Martha Stewart and Mel Brooks
discussing the future.
Mel was on stilts so he looked
Martha straight in the eye.

When the rattlesnake bit me,
Martha and Mel were alive on Earth
so I had no idea why they were there
with us zombies but nevertheless
I listened as Martha told Mel
she didn’t care which way
the elevator went as long as
she found prime rib and a glass
of Dom Pérignon waiting
when she arrived.

Mel didn’t care either, he said,
as long as he found a steamed
Nathan’s Hot Dog with two squirts
of mustard, lots of relish,
raw onion and sport peppers
hotter than hell and a
tankard of seltzer iced.
Seltzer is better, he said,
than Dom Pérignon.
Ask any sommelier.

Another elevator arrived and Martha
and Mel, arm and arm, boarded.
This time I didn’t hear Led Zeppelin
or Bing Crosby in the background.
I saw Martha stare Mel in the eye,
wag her finger and tell him to try
prime rib because too much
cholesterol lurks in hot dogs.
Enough to kill you, she said.

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