“John Doe 43” by Christine Beck

Image result for denim work clothes

A dingy heap of denim work clothes
lay behind Frankie’s Bar and Grill,
a gin mill with no juke box, dart board–

just the basics: dim lights, shots and beer.
As Jackson and Loretta angled for a parking spot,
she thought she saw the clothing tremble,

then collapse. Jackson was halfway in the door
when Loretta yelled, “Oh, my god! It’s a man!”
His head was bloody at the back where he must

have hit the concrete, his pockets filled with
crumpled ones. He smelled like sileage.
It didn’t seem to be an accident, according

to the cop who finally came, probably a bar-room
argument that turned ugly in the back. No one
seemed to know his name or where he lived.

The ambulance took him to the hospital. They
called him John Doe 43. No CSI searched
for a murder weapon, missing persons.

seemed pointless. Finally, the hospital found
his former wife, asked if she would pay the bill.
He was cremated by the state, which shipped his

in a cardboard box. My mother kept them
on her closet shelf, the only time she knew where
she could find him when she had dinner on the



Christine Beck is the President of the Connecticut Poetry Society and the Contest Chairperson of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. Her poems have been published in the anthology, Proposing on the Brooklyn Bridge, Grayson Press, 2003, J Journal, John Jay School of Criminal Justice; Passager, Connecticut  River Review, Connecticut Poetry Society; Long River Run, and Caduceus.