Devilishly handsome.
If only you had seen him, Julia cried,
before all that beer!

Vampyre Mike Kassel’s neighbor found him
dead in his room on Good Friday.
We didn’t hear till the following Wednesday,
Odin’s day.
 Magnificent pagan.
   Where is Mike?
Valhalla of the Jewish Boys?
The only one in the room to stand and offer
a limping woman his chair.
Is he playing graveyard golf?
Haunting the coroner’s dreams, 
reading him “Hamsters in Trouble”
till the man’s wife wakes to demented laughter?

On Easter we ate dark chocolate bunnies,
cracked plastic eggs full of gummi worms
and fluorescent sour night crawlers.
Mike lay chilled in a morgue drawer.

My husband, whose Christian name is Christian
(but we call him Hew), rose on Easter.
We fucked like bunnies. On Wednesday
Hew rose again. He rises reliably every day
like a Maypole for me to pole-dance around.
On Odin’s day, we fucked till the crimson
fitted sheet split its seam. Come Sunday Hew
will mend the sheet as if he were sewing
Vampyre’s blood-red shroud.

Let’s toast the health Mike didn’t have,
the wit he did, raise the horn of bat soup high,
drain our draughts of guilt and sorrow,
shell out were-gild for his last book.
When Hel belches heroes, we’ll expect
him back.  Hellion. Brat. Despite his pride,
they wheeled him out on a gurney after all.
He’ll never live it down.
     He’ll never live.

Midgard rings empty.
Vampyre Mike dances across our graves
from the underside, beating a drum-skin.

Everyone told Mike to go to the doctor,
but he wouldn’t. King of his own Kassel.
One more intractable Jew to roll a stone over.
He’ll never rise, or write, or play.
Passover’s coming anyway.

Time to say that other “Kaddish”:
Yit gadal v’yitkadash sh’mei rabbah….

© Jan Steckel, 2008

Jan Steckel's Website
online poem: "On the Street" in SoMa Literary Review
online fiction: "What Kind of Romantic Are You?" in Subtle Tea
review of chapbook The Underwater Hospital in poetic diversity