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Justin Groppuso-Cook

Luminous Viscera: Oil on Canvas

for Joe Groppuso 


What ails me: 


such heartache 

            swept in his canopic chest, 


these chambers 

            a void. His masterpiece 




            in our living room. 

Gold leaf lines the edges, 


            his strokes of alabaster jars: 


Imsety, human-headed, 

            his liver of bourbon; 


Qebehsenuef, falcon-headed, 

            intestines of blackening tar; 


Hapi, baboon-headed, lungs 

            of smoke; 


Duamutef, jackal-headed, blossoming 

            poppies in his gut. 


Ancient Egyptians left the heart 

            in the sarcophagus— 


necessary for safe passage. 

            But doctors cut forth his 


in the night, scalpel like a brush 

            blending burgundy 


to black. Replaced his valves with that 

            of a pig—heavy, 


                        I wept. 


I transplant myself into his rib 

            cage: the frame 




Seep into the cracks, the foreground 

            weeping with varnish— 


I have nothing to give, not even my own 

            to weigh upon the scales 


of the afterlife. I bear with the dead, 

            befriend them, bare all. 


My lighthearted sacrifice: a brushstroke 

            that overturns the feather.  


Veins flood as I uphold his body 

            & carry us through the reeds.

Headshot - Justin Groppuso-Cook.jpg

Justin Groppuso-Cook is a poet, musician, and healing artist from Detroit, Michigan. His work is forthcoming in Pacifica Literary Review, The Pinch, The Inflectionist Review, Sonora Review, and Ghost City Review. He received the 2021 Haunted Waters Press Award for Poetry and was a finalist for Black Warrior Review's 2022 Poetry Contest. His manuscript, "Illuminated Pupils", was a semi-finalist for the Black River Chapbook Competition and Tomaž Šalamun Prize. He serves as a writer-in-residence at InsideOut Literary Arts Project and poetry reader for West Trade Review. More information can be found on his website,

Bear Review


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