No Autopsy Needed

One of my pet peeves is the rampant use of pharmaceuticals; it seems like the majority of folks in this country have turned into my grandma. If she were alive today, she’d need a pantry to hold all her medications. She used to watch General Hospital, and whatever the symptoms of the disease de jour were, she would surely have them. I could elaborate, but I think you get the point.

I would also like to acknowledge my second favorite pet peeve; the way television and movies have desensitized us to blood and guts. I won’t expound on the subject, because it’s covered in the following poem. Enjoy!

No Autopsy Needed


Sawing furiously

With the dullest knife in the house

Through a two-inch slab of meat

Overcooked, because we can’t stand the sight of blood


Washing down half-chewed chunks

With chemical-laden diet soda

Looking over the can wide-eyed

At Bones, thinking, man she’s fine


As they make frappes in the morgue

While pulling a diseased liver

From a flayed open

Charred and bullet-riddled corpse


He was already dead, they say

Before the bullets entered his body

The fire started when he fell

Dropping his cigarette


When the stroke dropped him

Smoke filled his lungs

He lay there clutching his left arm

Wishing he had an aspirin


And a cell phone…

Like the one you ignore

Ringing in the other room

As you saw another chunk of meat


Wondering what the cause of death was

And looking over at the empty chair

Empty a long time

No autopsy needed…


The meds probably killed her


Copyright © 2012 C. Mashburn

Sharing this on dVerse Poets Pub’s, Poetics: Tools of the Trade (Verbs-All), hosted by K of manicDdaily this evening.


  1. Oh, Charles, this one kind of awful (because so accurate.) Very vivid–strong verbs, images, content! At one point, we found my poor Dad was incredibly over-medicated – we took him off of about six things he’d been on for years and years–some of the side effects we’d mistaken for symptoms of Parkinson’s – which he did have – but what was causing some of the issues was actually the pills. Crazy. Well done. k.

    • Thanks, K! I am absolutely stunned when I see a commercial for meds. Many of them, they try to scare you into thinking you have the symptoms, and then thaat soothing music and voice tells you how wonderful your life will be if you take the meds. Then! They run a list of “possible” side effects that take longer then the rest of the commercial to list. I detest what doctors and meds companies are doing.
      Thanks for the great comment!

  2. oh snap…nice end with that empty chair…and she might have just gotten tired of sitting around watching TV as well and gone out to live….can not eat well done meat though, sorry, medium rare, more on the rare…maybe i have been too desensitized….

    • Totally fiction, Brian. I don’t do well done either, but don’t do rare either. I also don’t watch much tv; makes me too angry.
      Thanks for the visit and comment!

  3. this made me think though about working for the sheriffs dept…because my partner told me the first wreck we rolled up on to just think of them as evidence to distance myself from it because otherwise over time it would be too much for me…i hear you though on the desensitization in normal life though…it seems the more we put in the more we need and push the boundaries….

    sorry i wrote a book man…smiles.

    • No worries! I love to read, and especially like great comments on my poems and stories!
      The blood and guts thing is just like everything else; they just keep moving the boundaries. I can’t imagine what will be considered “acceptable” in another ten years.
      Thanks again! I appreciate the great comments!

  4. Mary said

    I think you are right about meds being over prescribed. Prescription drug abuse is rampant, but it wouldn’t be as much so IF doctors didn’t prescribe them in the first place.

    • Don’t get me started, Mary! Doctors are a HUGE part of this problem!
      Thanks for the read and comment!

  5. claudia said

    oh dang…i don’t watch much television and i’m sometimes shocked how desensitized people can get and partly also live more in the tv world than in reality…fine write charles

    • I don’t watch much tv either, Claudia. I’m in the room when it’s on, and mostly I get in trouble for yelling at it. Some shows, I have to leave the room.
      Thanks for the visit and comment!

  6. Grace said

    Funny thing is when I visited the doctor yesterday, he prescribed medicines and shots. This got my son who is so health conscious so angry, saying all of these drugs just make you sick. Its hard to tell really who is telling the truth nowadays ~ I like your poetic share, it had me gnashing my teeth ~

    • I’d go with your son. The problem nowadays, is there is no second opinion, and the doctor’s word is accpeted as gospel. I have a rule: I’ll go to the doctor, only if I am carried there.
      Thanks for the visit and comment, Grace!

      • If that were true of me, I would be long gone from this earth. There is truth, half truth and untruth in your statement! Following recent cardiac disturbances, the specialist took me off 3 of the medications have kept me alive for donkey’s years (he prescribed them in the first place). Deprivation of one of them has sent my blood pressure soaring, and my GP put me back on one of them. Who do I obey?

      • My poem is certainly not meant to sway opinion; merely my observations, tinged with my own thoughts on the matter.

  7. hiroshimem said

    That was an accurate description of many contradictions regarding health that exist in our societies. How fascinated yet scared by blood many of us are… How the screen is at times the best barrier (no, that will never happen to me) but at other times our best mirror (what if…). Difficult topic to render in poetry, I think, but you did it like a chef! 😉

  8. I have to start with both a snap and a dang… and I’m not even American (just imagine in plummy English). I loved this, so true, so true. I too have concerns for all sorts of desensitisation brought about my various media so this really resonated with me. And in spite of the seriousness of the piece theres still a clear voice of mischief in it for me which I presume is yours and I like it!

    • You know me so well, and I think that’s because you are much the same as I in the mischief category!
      Thank you for the wonderful comment, Vanessa!

  9. tashtoo said

    Stinging…smart…and so up my alley! I have a running battle with TV time in this house, let alone what’s on it….when I am alone, the beast is silenced…the chemical cocktail is an addiction recently curbed (fingers crossed!) Awesome play today! (She screams poetically over the Simpson’s theme thundering through the house!)

  10. We have deff become desensitized to blood and guts due to graphic TV shows and movies. A chilling read Charles because, it’s so true to life!

  11. Louise said

    Powerful write, Charles…obvious you feel strongly …I personally can’t watch TV too much & horror films scare me to death….I think there’s far too much blood & gore out there…and the news is bad enough. It’s horrendous…but before I rattle on…good poem!

    • Horror films don’t scare me; it’s just a movie. I am very turned off by the gore though. I do not find it entertaining. And, don’t worry about the rattling on; you’re visiting one of the best rattlers on the planet!
      Thank you for stopping by! Come back again!

  12. Between you and Brian, my surgical write is pretty mild. Wonderful poem, Charles, as always.

    • Thank you very much, Victoria! I’m so glad you enjoyed it, and I appreciate the kind words!

  13. Sherry Mashburn said

    You touched a nerve with this one, sweetie. Great write!

  14. Hello! This is my first visit to your page and thus, this is the first post I’ve read – and I love it. I think it’s all been said above, but I particularly like the contrast between the chewing of overcooked meat while “digesting” dinnertime TV gore. Clever and sadly true.

  15. Mama Zen said

    What a splendid write! So true!

  16. hedgewitch said

    Way to tell it like it is, Charles. There was a time when CSI grossed me completely out–now it’s a yawn through, and the meds commercials are exactly the way you described them above, shilling to get you on a drug whose side effects are worse than whatever you have–great little poem that rocked the prompt.

    • I love it when the opening scene is a body with its guts spilled all over the ground; or charred, that seems to be popular these days.
      Don’t get me started on the meds commercials!
      Thanks for the visit and rockin comment!!

  17. I’m absolutely appalled at the amount of prescription and non prescription drugs taken in the US. I’m a nurse and everyone takes pills. Some meds do help and others only hurt people. They are on uppers and drink, opposing effects…a real killer! More poems are needed. The people that REALLY need antidepressants are not on them. Wow you just got me started! Good poem :)))!!!

    • I love it when I can get somebody started, and I seem to have hit a nerve with this one. The meds thing is out of control, and I see no hope of it slowing down. Peole think pills are the do-all and cure-all, but in reality, all most of them do is confuse the body, which is very capable of taking care of itself if taken care of properly. I don’t mean to be argumentaative, but I don’t think anyone needs antidepressants. Don’t get ME started!! 🙂
      Thanks for the awesome comment!

  18. I agree there’s a lot of gratuitous vilolence on television and in the movies. You certainly changed your tune with this one…very powerful and teeny bit aggressive this week. Great poem! 🙂

    • Aggresive?? Yes, you are correct. I try not to get too wound up on some subjects; I can be extremely passionate if I do.
      Thanks for the great comment, Dianne!

  19. David King said

    Wow, no prisoners taken here, then? This is saying it as seen and no mistake… but perversely, I find it rather endearing!

    • It can have that slap!-I’ll-have-another effect on a person; I kind of intended it to be that way.
      I appreciate the visit and comment, David!

  20. I la oved the mix of clinical precision, cynicism and wicked humour of your poem. See my earlier comment for a medical view.
    I cannot eat rare meat – it has to be dead before it reaches my plate.

    • I know a lot of people say they like rare/raw meat, but I’ve always thought the act was one of machismo; look at me, I eat blood! (That should get the rarebies stirred up!) 🙂 I feel the same about sushi; oh bother! as in pooh, winnie
      Thanks for the visit and comments, Viv! I’m pleased you enjoyed my not-so-sneaky humor!

  21. marousia said

    So vivid!

  22. Rugged writing…I appreciate your concerns very real ones of today.

  23. poemsofhateandhope said

    No holds barred here! Just telling it like it is….the weird thing is – is that I’ve been in this situation- not to go into detail- but I’d lost my father (unexplained heart failure)- and I remember cooking and just thinking about the autopsy- thinking about the physicality of the human body- I think that we are disensitised to blood and guts – and particularly in the news where we see more and more the blunt honest horror of it….I’m torn…mostly I don’t think it’s a bad thing…it happens…its real…blood and guts and war and death is real….let’s face it…talk about….but then again….maybe there is bliss in ignorance….your poem sure made me think….fantastic

    • We see the blunt honest horror of it, because “they” think that’s what we want to see. Why is it entertainment to see blood and guts? Yep; food for thought, that’s for sure.
      Thanks for the great comment, Stu! I appreciate your visits!

  24. Great piece, Charles. I’m editing a nutrition book right now, so I’ve been reading a lot lately about some of the points you touch on. As a poet, I love the stanza with the cell phone and how you bring the poem back to your opening. You make it look so easy (sigh).

    • The American public has been duped when it comes to medicine and medical treatment. Doctors have no cures, only pills to treat the symptoms. The problem is they run ads 24/7 trying to convince people they have the symptoms, and need the meds. Dependency is not something we are born with, it is something we are conditioned/trained to have. Everything is a disease, and the doctor has a pill for it. Look what you did, Julie! Ya got me fired up first thing in the mornin!!
      As for the poem and making it look easy, all I can say is, it seems easy to me; I just write what I think/feel, and write it the way I’d say it. When I’m writing, I see the things I’m writing about like I’m watching them happen. My advice to any writer is, just let ‘er rip!
      Thanks for the wonderful comment! Sorry ’bout the rambling response!

      • I think I need to find your coffee roaster–it couldn’t have just been my comment that fired you up! Thanks for the encouragement, here and on my page. I’m going to do my best to adopt your motto as well!

      • Was too! But, I have to confess, Sherry is out of town, and although she only drinks one cup, the entire pot is now MINE! HAHAHAHAAAAA! (Don’t be skeert!)

  25. Shawn said

    Washing down half-chewed chunks puts an image in my head that really makes me less hungry. I am happy to say that television is a rarity for me now. Thank you for a very vivid poem!

  26. Reblogged this on Marbles In My Pocket ~ The Official Blog of Charles L. Mashburn ~ Poems, Short Stories, and random thoughts from the author of "Be Still… and know that I am God" and commented:

    Kind of funny, but… not.

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