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Bucket List
by Bill Tope

My mother visited me at my home
the other day, which was not unusual
but for the fact that she's been dead
for some three years. So I guess it's
more precise to say that her ghost
put in an appearance at my domicile
recently.  She had a few things to tell
"Hello, Willy," she said in a spirit-like
voice. "Mom!" i cried, startled. "Wha...?"
"You're asleep, Willy," she remarked,
nodding down at the prone figure atop my
mattress.  My cat Baby reposed there as
well and her tail swished with nonconcern.
Before I could utter another word, Mom
went on.: "I have some things I want to
tell you, Willy." I was all ears. "To begin
with," she said, I'm not happy about the
way your love life is going."  I furrowed
my brow questioningly.  "We can see
everything from up there," she explained,
jerking a thumb heavenward.
My head swam. Yikes!  "You mean that you
can see..."  "Everything!" she repeated for
effect. "You can do better," she continued.
"You always were keen on easy women;
you've no ambition," she scolded.  I stared
down at my bare feet. 
"Isn't there a more exclusive-type of girl
you'd like to....' she left the sentence
unfinished. My eyes brightened.  "Well, there
is Jennifer Lopez," I exclaimed.  "Careful what
you wish for," counseled Mom. "Get your head
out of the clouds,  What do you want, the world?"
What about the call for greater ambition, I
"What else is on your mind?" I asked, anxious
to change the subject.  "I don't like the way
youse keeping house," she said unexpectedly.
"The burners on the stove are caked with
grime, the toilet bowl ain't been cleaned in a
month and you need to wash them curtains in
the living room.  I ain't been dead but for three
year’ and already this place is going to rack and
"I'll take care of it, Mom, I promise." She seemed
somewhat mollified.  We stood in silence for a
few moments and I could tell there was something
more on her mind.  I whispered, "I really miss you,
Mom."  She sniffed dismissively. "Don't let that
bother you none," she said. "What do you mean?"
I asked.
"I mean you're joinin' me," she said.  My eyes grew
wide. "You mean now, tonight?" I yelped.  "Keep
your britches on," she said.  "Not tonight, but in less
than a year. So, you gotta get your affairs in order.
Now, I told you, and I got to go back."  "Wait," I cried. 
"You can't just drop this on me and then split; when,
exactly, will I die? What will be the cause of death,
murder, disease, an accident...."
"I can't tell you when," said Mom.  "But, you got it
right the first time,"  I blinked. "But, who would
want to murder me?"  I asked, incredulous. "You get
your wish," she said.  "Jennifer Lopez's husband
catches you in bed with his wife and strangles you
with an extension cord.  It's in all the papers. He gets
off by reason of insanity." "Well," I said, "at least
there's a happy ending."
And with that my deceased mother floats back high
into the either, giving me a little wave good-bye.
Moments later I am back in bed, next to Baby, her
tail swishing in my face.  I crawl out of bed and
extract a small notebook from my bureau and turn
to the first page of my Bucket List and cross out entry
No. 1..

This poem was originally published in Down in the Dirt Magazine