If Only He Could

by Richard Miller


  The trouble with modern coffins is they're too well built and too damn tight. How can any self-respecting former world leader be expected to turn in their grave properly when they're packed like a sardine inside an indestructible case? John F. Kennedy tried to give the coffin lid a kick but the cushioning, though loosened with time, was still too snug to get any kind of a back swing for his leg. Besides, the last time he tried that, when he'd heard that bastard Nixon had got himself elected, his foot was so decomposed it fell off. He could do nothing but lay there fussing and fuming with anger seeping into his vacant eyes. Cremation would have been better. Gandhi was right, the smart ass, he can twist and turn any which way he likes as the living continue their reckless journey into oblivion. But not John, no, he'd been shackled by the rules and traditions of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave to an eternity inside a matchbox dressed in a suit he hated. How many times had he clenched his decaying fists in rage and shouted "The blue one! The blue one!! I wanted the blue one!!! I look like shit in this thing!" And now, good God now, when this latest election should have transformed him into a flashing blue turbine he was stuffed and stuck, a brown stiff unable to roll onto his side never mind have a twirl in his eternal resting place. He was, to say the least, not very happy.

        Certainly there had been frustrations in life. Take Castro for instance. The Bay of Pigs was never his idea. He was all for getting along. Communist? Capitalist? He didn't care. There were some decent night clubs in Havana and a trip there would have offered a welcome break from the boring social stiffs he had to suffer at Hyannis Port. He'd asked Hoover to get Fidel's telephone number so he could give him a call, maybe get invited down to Cuba, have a few beers, smoke some decent cigars, catch a ball game or two—fat chance! The real powers that be decreed there would be no deviation from their regimented truth and when the missiles arrived those same suits had him bound up tighter than his coffin did now. There was no choice but to bring the world to the brink of nuclear war. Far too much had been invested in The Red Scare to change tack over Cuba or anything else for that matter. What wasn't controlled by the Pentagon was controlled by Wall Street and what wasn't controlled by Wall Street was controlled by Madison Avenue.

        Life was bad but death was worse. He had no choice but to lie there, his face locked upwards, and watch as those same powers inexorably ground the spirit of freedom into dust. Whenever he got bored watching tourists pass by the eternal flame which—to be honest, was quite often—he'd shake his head at the destruction of the American intellect. Lying on his back he could do nothing but watch helplessly as the increasing crush of inanities first from television, then the tabloid media and finally the internet crippled the attention span and drained the intelligence out of the land he'd loved. If he'd had a cork he'd have blown it when reality television hit the screens. Once that started the tourists and eternal flame became interesting by comparison. And now—you couldn't make this up—a reality TV star had been elected President of the United States. The Democrats, HIS DEMOCRATS, had managed to pick a candidate and a design a strategy that lost to a political amateur—an illiterate political amateur—in a blue suit! It was enough to send him rolling in his grave. If only he could.

Created: December 1, 2016

Age: 62

State: Maine/Belgium


Born in the United States, and still subject to the long arm of the I.R.S., Richard Miller moved to Britain many years ago. There he delved deeply into the culture of public life, by that he means life in a pub, and rugby. Moving to Belgium in 1996 he, eventually, established himself as a statistical programmer in the Pharmaceutical industry. More recently however he has begun the transformation into a semi-retired, neophyte writer and songwriter. While there is a book simmering on a back plate somewhere, his current focus is towards short stories, articles, and songs designed to build up his writing chops while learning about the trade. Each Friday he posts a short poem on his website designed to start the weekend on a positive note, and maybe a smile, which, most of the time, shouldn’t be taken too seriously.