by J. S. Absher
Is death, posed, worth more than an artless life? The question troubles the art lover; she ransacks memory, old crow inspecting a corpse: God, disease and history endow the artist with the eye of memento mori, with income enough from dead soldiers and crow-pecked proles to fund any taste—a lesson of the caws in Père Lachaise, lost on Bonnat, for he fetched from the salle de dissection a corpse dead of indecipherable causes and nailed him to a cross, eager to glimpse how a thin man of Adam is altered by crucifixion, how a nameless dead clochard becomes lucid for us, his suffering at last inescapable of notice, on the edge of the circle of our attention.
J. S. Absher is a poet and independent scholar. His first full-length book of poetry, Mouth Work (St. Andrews University Press) won the 2015 Lena Shull Competition of the North Carolina Poetry Society. His second full-length collection, Skating Rough Ground, is scheduled to appear next year. Chapbooks are Night Weather (Cynosura, 2010) and The Burial of Anyce Shepherd (Main Street Rag, 2006). Absher is also preparing three books focusing on North Carolina and Southern US history, two of which (Love Letters of a Mississippi Lawyer and My Own Life, or A Deserted Wife) were published this year. He lives in Raleigh, NC, with his wife, Patti. Website: www.js-absher-poetry.com