I know, such a shock! Nobody sees it coming, but here I am. I’ll just give you a sec to breathe…or not breathe. You know what I mean. Take a moment.


Sorry about the robes and skeleton get-up. I thought about appearing as something a bit less…prosaic. It is YOU, after all. But I was in a rush and this apparition is just so easy. Just throw it on and voila! No conjuring of winged horses or fiery chariots or whatever. Skeletons are all over the place where I’m from. And this robe was on sale for, like, ten bucks! It’s so hard to find clothes in my size.


Anyway, it looks like we’ve got a few minutes here while they try to revive your body. (It’s not going to work, just so you know.) But while I’ve got you—I mean I’m just such a huge admirer of yours—do you think I could read you a poem or two of mine? It’ll only take a minute. Man, they’re being really loud down there! They’re just freaked out because you’re famous. Look at them scurrying around. That tubby one better watch it. I’ve got some free time later, that’s all I’m saying.


I’ll just talk over them. This one’s called “Morning Snow”.


Morning Snow

How you blow

How you fall

Over all

Like a snowflake

Each death, unique

Except for people in car accidents

Who all die pretty much the same way,

Going “Aaaah!”


I got that whole death/snow motif from you. I know, it’s not great. But that was one of my first tries. Let’s see if I can remember a more recent one. Okay, this one’s called, “Careful, Man”.


Careful with that pick-ax, Man

Someone’s right behind you

Don’t swing that thing so hard, my friend

Someone’s right behind you

Oh, wait

That other guy’s got a gun

Bang! Bang!

That wasn’t supposed to happen

Someone gave me the wrong file

I’m going to give that temp a piece of my mind later


I figure it’s okay that I refer to myself in that one. I’m going to try and publish my poems piggybacked onto my celebrity, kind of like how Jewel did. Everyone needs a gimmick, you know? Being Death ain’t a bad one.


I’m sorry, but I’ve got to say it. You are, like, WAY shorter in person. I mean, I don’t know what I was expecting, but WOW. You know who else was really short? Alexander the Great! Dude was tiny, even for back then. Like a little angry toy. Actually that would make a pretty good poem. Let’s see…


Alexander, Alexander

Why so angry? Why so tiny?

You conquered all

You were so small

Now you’re dead

Your statues will probably be much

Bigger than your actual self


I’m just spitballing here. Alright, looks like they’re giving up down there. Good thing for Dr. Tubby, too. I wonder if he knows any other poets? Do you guys have, like, a union with a medical plan? Wonder what John Berryman is doing this weekend?


I’ve got to make a couple of stops before we reach the Other Plane. Actually I was hoping we could stop by your publisher’s office. An endorsement from you, especially now, would just help me so much. It’s so hard to make it as a writer these days. Don’t worry, assuming corporeality is really easy. Just try and mention that I’ve got an M.F.A. from UMass and that I interned for a summer at Random House.


And the trip will give me time to share some more of my poems, if you’re game. Ha, of course you are. What are you gonna say no to me right now? Not that I’d leave you between worlds or anything, but there’s a short way to do this and a long way to do this.


Alright, we should get going. “Miles to go before we sleep” and so forth. Just as a favor to me, try not to moan too much. I’ve got an insurance salesman to do later, and I’ve got to steel myself. They’re always so talkative.



NATHAN PENSKY is a recent graduate of the Creative Writing M.F.A. program at Mills College and has been published in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, MONKEYBICYCLE, and many others. He is an Associate Flash Fiction/Fiction Editor for the online literary journal JMWW, and a frequent contributor for the pop culture website PopMatters.

2 responses to “Death Comes for Robert Frost”

  1. Matt says:

    “Like a little angry toy.”


  2. D.R. Haney says:

    You know, I don’t think you’d have to be Robert Frost to have Death want to share his writing with you. I think it might even happen with a greeting-card writer.

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