Monthly Archives: January 2012

The result of reading too many medical journals


A knock on the door, so
innocuous, answered in the clinking
of sovereigns passed hand to hand,
to be drowned in a purse of cheap leather.
The purchase laid out for dissection;
So much meat on a slab.

Undressed only partially, bleeding
from the head, skin and hardening muscles
slowly agreeing with the temperature
of tabletop. And why not? The students
have yet to arrive with their sketch pads
and charcoal. There is a strong smell

which the good doctor relieves
by opening the windows. The sparrows
alight. Three of them, sharpening their beaks
on the windowsill, aligning their pinions.
The old man lays his scalpels on leather,

A gleaming row, arranged by dirty fingers
-a gentleman’s hands are kept clean by culture,
cleansed by the rhythmic flow of hereditary blood,
whose process no one yet understands-
the door resounds youthful excitement,

the students filter in. Incision, incision,
a red node held up to meet
the first light it has ever known.
A student in the back row displaces
a perched sparrow from the corner of his pad.

He adds a shadow, with a delicate stroke,
to the corner of a bloodless liver, deeply pleased.
There is the scent of butcher shops, a few small,
quiet sighs. The doctor’s descriptive intonations, muffled
by torso, his feet displacing mouse-like birds

With every readjustment of his weight.
They cheep and hop in brownish clouds,
pecking at the leakage. Two hours’ work,
or less, the job is done. All that remains
is final dispersal. The students leave

their payment in coins that rattle against
the slaver by the door, or choke the gaping mouth
of a plaster African left out to accept them.
They grasp their hands with their good teacher,
honored to come to grips with his greatness.

The good man turns his hot face to the light,
taking in the open window, feeling the breeze.
The flesh on the table awaits its dénouement.
He rolls up the skin, a good heavy rug,
his footsteps scattering sparrows,
mentally measuring a number of wallets.

As he scrapes up the fat, to be sent to the renderers;
calculating the price of rich soap. The bones will be boiled,
clean, and buried with all the others in a small patch.
of earth. The old man works hard at this reclamation,
at his feet the gentle sparrows flutter in clouds,

fighting for scraps.

A morbid How-To guide.

Killing the Wolf

A knapped blade of fired chert,
a handle carved from bone,
drape the edge in viscera
left from the slaughter,
bury the dry bone
in the earth whence it sprung,
and do not neglect
to lock up your dogs.

The wolves come with the darkness,
silent as the images that stir in your head.
A woman, half-wild, aflame and yet dancing.
She will not harden, though she blackens like chert.
The old man, bent and red-handed, who opens the doors.
The child who smiles up, white toothed, from the jaws of Coyote.
The wolves come, yellow-eyed, silent,
to the threshold of your home.

The sheep guts stiffen on the blade,
dug handle deep in frost.
The tongue of the wolf steams in black air,
numb as a stone.
White entrails, streaked red, dangling
stiffened from the fire-marred blade,
the bright tongue out and steaming,
sensate only to flavour and the remnants of touch,
seeking the flesh.

All taste is blood to the night-hungry.
The steam peters out.
Hairs stiffen, flesh hard as stone.
And you, awakening to morning,
forgetting your dreams,
face the flesh at your door.
The sunshine. Unfeeling.

An oldie but, I think, a goodie

In Preparation for the Hunt

Picture me waiting
in the nook by the window,
long skirt spread out, falling
red and wet-looking against
the strong curve of my legs,
the material, rich as arterial
blood, scrounged from a curtain,
concealing my calves as a sheath
hides a blade. And I, sitting there,
coiled, for you. Holding that feather
that I found in the woods, the
pinion that fell from some
brown-streaked hawk,
brushing that keen edge against my lips
in anticipation of the softness of your flesh.
picture this and know that,
though I’m hooded now, by the long
shadows of the eaves, when you come for
me in sunlight, crossing
plain across that barren field,
the feather will fall, my feet will fly,
and my arms will cross tight
around your neck.

Zombie Mermaids, and a new post on The Order of the Good Death, oh my!

The Little Mermaid

The cleaned up stories
you humans get
are always bastardized

long before Disney
applies its Clorox,
wiping out the stench

every fleck of skin,
or blood,
the fabric has

been washed
a thousand times.
Take, for instance

this story, favourite
of six-year-old
females, splashing

in the bath with
red-haired, plastic
-finned dolls.

Mermaids are not
clean things
though they exist

in water. There
are reasons that
they drowned

their lovers
before bringing
them home.

Your prince, that
tall, dark-haired

first crush, fell
overboard, one night
wind-tossed by a billowing

storm. He died
with his eyes open,
observing his loves

bared teeth
and empty eye
sockets, her talons

hooked into
his algae-specked
shirt, the scales

of her tail
peeling off,
revealing a flank

like an ancient
salmon fillet,
thrashing muscular

through the jism
waves. And yes,
there was singing,

a wedding
in a castle

full fathom five
beneath the weight
and press of ocean.

There was a magic
something human

into a different,
if not arguably
better form;

but still,
I can remember
those pearls

that were
his eyes
and I think;

who needs
your cleaned-up

Real life is filthy,
awful, but the
love is more lasting,

undying, rotten
but solid,
inarguably real.

And don’t forget to check out what Caitlin and the rest of the Order are doing here:  Spreading the Good News of mortality in this plastic, death-denying world!

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