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by David Harmer


Several poems composed by Miss Emily Dickinson, the enigmatic Belle of Amherst, revealing bereavement occasioned by the pathetic and untimely death of her esteemed colleague, Ricardo Cracrofto, the quiet and reclusive poet (so tragically and unjustly neglected by the Literati, then as now), in which Dickinson comments upon death in general. They were recently discovered in some stacks of old receipts in the office of the Treasurer of Amherst College by David Harmer, a student in Brigham Young University’s Study Abroad—Semester in Massachusetts Program. 

Death is counted sweetest
By those who ne'er drop dead
And also for a poet
Who is better dead than read. 

I heard an Insect—while he lived—
His Muse I think it was—
Still—when I read his Poetry—
I hear that damn Fly buzz. 

Because he would not stop for Death—
Death kindly stopped R.C.—
Proving to me yet again
Death has Charity. 

The Carriage held but Cracrofto—
Another could not fit—
Because his Bulk was in—inverse—
Proportion to his wit—

The last Day that He lived 
It was a Common Day 
Except his Hollering scared People
Twenty miles away.

He noticed smallest things—
Details—loudly swore,
"You said I must Publish or Perish—
Not both! It's either/or!"

We gave him liquor never brewed
Save in the Still in Back—
Hopeful that his strained windpipe
Would mercifully go slack. 

They slammed it thrice before it closed—
Cracrofto's too-tight coffin
They dropped it twice, and hefting it, 
They paused to gasp—often. 

I liked to see him lap his Soup—
And lick the Ice Cream up—
Sneak crackers in his bed at night
And drink—the buttered cup. 

(I died for curiosity)—
Listening in my Tomb
I heard them drop R.C. into 
An adjoining—Room.

He questioned softly, "Emily?"
"Ricardo," I replied—
"I heard a Fly buzz—Amherst Belle—"
"Of course, my dear—you've died."