Lying in State

Celebrity cults on public display
from Academy Award ceremonies
to World Trade Center tributes,
farewell funerals to space station
concerts where droning bagpipes
shatter interstellar serenity; wheezing
bellows nurture reeds as cauld winds
flow & former art patrons turn
teary eyes towards a movie star,
singer, politician, or monarch
testifying how the person—long gone—
changed their lives for the better
knowing today’s socialites & dignitaries
lying in state won’t rise like a phoenix, offer
renewal, or merit a constellation before tomorrow’s
fallen icon grabs headlines & leads newscasts
while their confused children forget the plethora
of well-coached words hailing transitory
heroes, sheroes, saints…prepared & rehearsed
for paparazzi microphones & television cameras.

About the Poem

The paparazzi and more recently, social media have perpetuated the cult of celebrity for ages. However, a recent article, “Queen’s Death Triggers Media Extravaganza Works for Decades” inspired my poem, “Lying in State,” which moves beyond funerals to include weddings, award- ceremonies, etc. where a life defining person/event one day takes back seat to someone else on tomorrow’s news.

About the Author

An award-winning author, poet, and educator, Sterling Warner’s works have appeared in many literary magazines, journals, and anthologies including POETRY LIFE & TIMES, SPARKS OF CALLIOPE, and ANTI-HEROIN CHIC. In addition to MASQUES: FLASH FICTION & SHORT STORIES, Warner has written seven poetry collections including EGES, SERPENT’S TOOTH, and FLYTRAPS…available via Currently, Warner writes, participates in “virtual” poetry readings, and enjoys retirement in Washington.

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