Cold Case

by Patrick Theron Erickson

A Case So Cold the Dead Man Wore Pajamas Under His Suit

– Michael Wilson, The New York Times, July 4, 2016

He was found
by the only sort of people interested
in deep, snowy, wooded gullies
on a freezing day in February

children with sleds

There in the snow
a dead man lay on his back
his arms raised before him
as if he were reading a newspaper

He wore a suit and a tie
and was clean shaven
approaching middle age
with galoshes on his shoes
$156 in his pocket
and four bullet holes
in the back of his head

‘We have his fingerprints
we have his DNA
we have his photographs’

said Investigator James Browne
of the New York State Police

‘We just don’t know
who he is’

Beneath his green suit
and dark necktie
he wore a white dress shirt

And beneath his white dress shirt
a long-sleeved olive shirt
a T-shirt and pale blue pajamas

And all over this
he sported an overcoat

Why all the clothes?
Why the overkill
four .25-calibre bullet holes
in the back of his head?

‘He had a dark suit on
you can remember that’

So said Thomas Adams
who found the body
with his brothers
in that deep, snowy, wooded gully
on a freezing day in February
as a six year old

‘You think about a guy in a dark suit
as a professional
not someone who could get murdered’

And yet here we are
46 years later

no closer to an identity
and further still from the perpetrators.


Patrick Theron Erickson, a resident of Garland, Texas—a Tree City, just south of Duck Creek—is a retired parish pastor put out to pasture himself. His work has appeared in Cobalt Review, Literati Quarterly, Burningword Literary Journal and Grey Sparrow Journal, among other publications, and more recently in Right Hand Pointing, The Penwood Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, Wilderness House Literary Review and Danse Macabre.

Read his other poems published this month in Deep South here

Mighty Armstrong
Blues Man