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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 12: March 2022
Poem: 200 words
By Patricia L. Scruggs

Instructions for a Good Funeral

To be honest, I prefer memorials 
where the coffin is not present 
and we can all pretend our friend 
has moved to that condo in Florida. 

Keep it short, especially if the building is cold. 
Place Kleenex boxes every row. 

Avoid the officiate who says, “I didn’t have the pleasure 
of meeting (deceased’s name here), in life, but from what 
the family has told me, I missed out.” 

And save me from the preacher 
who uses the opportunity 
of a captive audience 
to give a thirty-minute sermon 
designed to convert the mourners to his faith. 

Have no more than three designated speakers. 
Give them a time limit. 

Never ask for volunteers to talk about the departed. 
Usually this leads to long silences, except for that time 
I attended a large funeral where everyone in the building 
felt compelled to speak, except for the four of us. 
It was cold. Freezing, we huddled together for warmth, 
suppressed giggles while counting down the number 
of friends and acquaintances who had not yet spoken. 

And take it from me, a good funeral 
is one where the little niece or nephew 
doesn’t stand up and read bad poetry. 


Patricia L. Scruggs
Issue 12, March 2022

lives and writes in Southern California. In addition to her poetry collection, Forget the Moon, her work has appeared in ONTHEBUS, Spillway, Rattle, Calyx, Cultural Weekly, Crab Creek Review, Lummox, MacQueen’s Quinterly, and Inlandia, as well as the anthologies 13 Los Angeles Poets, So Luminous the Wildflowers, and Beyond the Lyric Moment. A recent Pushcart Prize nominee, Patricia is a retired art educator who earned her MFA at California State University, Fullerton.

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