from Verse for the Dead

by Ben Spivey

                       (Sometime before.)

I was eating a quick breakfast before work.
            Was I eating an apple or an orange? Was I standing in front of the sink rinsing then biting into an apple or was I over the trashcan peeling an orange then eating each slice?
            Had I fallen asleep on the train to be picked up by some evil god and dropped into the sea?


Fact: I was no longer where I should have been. I was no longer where I deserved to be.
            Fact: fact no longer mattered.
            I married my husband in my mid-twenties.


“You were late for school?”
“There was a class on map making.”
“You enjoyed that class?”
“I was the only student enrolled in it and the professor never showed up. I took every test.”


Location? Probability of discovery. Consequence of suicide.
            There was no location to cure me.


There was a new and darker Earth. An Earth with scorched skies. From the very sky of ash it spoke, a voice. Words from old texts, revised and revisited.

Up in the sky! Hear the trumpeter play!

A man dressed in the robes of the righteous (red and white). He wore a tall black hat.

            “We will complete our melding. How you’ll look here when you’re old seeking your father. He’ll be somewhere all those years. He’ll look older. He’ll look thinner and healthier. He’ll say to you how you’ve lost ambition. He’ll say to you how you’ve aborted your faith. He’ll strike your mouth at your first word.”


The notes of the trumpet go on—


Cut to a scene of wolfs dripping blood from their jaws, ripping flesh.

[[[Don’t open the door.]]


The ocean hid a creature in its blood.
            In that boat I saw it turn its illuminated-eyes when I closed mine. Felt it.

[[Bones tremble at the trumpet’s hush.]]]


A great eye—massive and knowing—belonging to some worm creature of the sea. A beast which had never been seen in its entirety. A beast of myth. It was told that its gaping mouth housed a million husks. It was told that its gaping mouth was the birth place of terrible crows. It was told that thousands of those eggs hatched on its tongue.
            Hissing crows spitting and begging. The worm’s tongue bleeding from their gnashing as it surfaced—facing its mouth toward heaven—freeing the murder and swallowing its tongue blood as if another wave from the ocean.
            Like a dog eating its afterbirth.
            The eye of a giant. Its eye: a religious symbol. A new cross. The symbol of the brothers. The same eye burnt onto the front of the family bible, leather bound and worn. Burnt onto the foreheads of the brothers and sisters.
            Look there, see.







Ben Spivey the author of Flowing in the Gossamer Fold (Blue Square Press, 2010) and Black God (Blue Square Press / Dzanc Books, 2012).


One thought on “from Verse for the Dead

  1. griffinxi says:

    Bursting with wordy goodness– won’t forget this one soon.

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