Slice your uncut nail
.                                        across the cover
to justify craving
another. Deny               this dumb reason
                                     you scratch moons
into the face
                                     of Hunger, gusty
Knut Hamsun an ex
left. Her sheets             of telltale skin un-
.                                       folded you, the rain-
bow zodiac of her
.                                       solar plexus inked
above tentacles
tugging a ship               untold depths. Deepen
.                                       your mark: ply a bone
knife. Gut words
.                                       worthless. You maul
volumes for the thrill
of boundless prices      to peel. Your scabs
                                      itch. You require
new titles to plot
.                                       against. Your book
arrived a mess of art-
less packaging              and filled with hexes
.                                       that reeked of semen,
torn out origami
                                     hearts and cursive
hair stuffed back in
a rush. Remember       halfway to Folly
.                                       Beach when a juvenile
heathen you loved
.                                        to lay out Happy
Meals on pictures
of Noah’s Ark                 and break each fry
.                                        in half to have two?
As flash floods
.                                       upturned the blood-
logged Black Belt
carving a shadow          arc to the Atlantic
                                       like God’s own
piss mark you felt
                                       stuck in it ages
with leviathans
abreast the minivan.    Each drop jammed
                                       time and the wind-
shield’s road movie
                                     went static, the trip
a paradox between
states, a Welcome           wavering. Ma blew
                                    smoke. You licked salt
from your fingers,
.                                      used your worn hand-
-me-down white-
belted taekwondo gi   for a napkin. Bit
                                     a nail sharp, stabbed
lion eyes and lamb,
.                                       snake and the forsaken
pterodactyl but let
all swimming things   live lives of seeing
.                                       in your apocrypha.
In your daydream
                                     you stowed away
awaiting the sun
to cue your flying        kick through the keel
                                     and the hole to gulp
the sea and the sea
                                     to gulp the conceited
zoo. You pretend
to read better now,      know many bones are dis-
                                     articulate missives
of missed contexts
                                     and ghosts are dolls
cut from godawful
autobiographies           floating atop dark
.                                       histories. If you
have a beginning,
                                     middle and an end
you have a whole
and if the whole           has roof and walls
.                                       and voices to fog
memory it is more
.                                       or less a house-
boat, sinkable. From
the distance of sun-     sets, masts burning
                                     can recall pages
turning. Your boy-
.                                       hood Book of Genesis
is pulp and rainfall
since has echoed          flames as your eyes
                                     close those decades.
Go wreck. Go re-
.                                       construct. You borrow
each passage
and another pen         will in the end
                                    mark your fabled X
in a spot far under-
.                                      water. Relish your salt.
This ancient story
wormholes any-         body, and you
                                    forgot karate.


Matthew Bruce’s writing has appeared in journals such as West Branch and At Length and Cincinnati Review. He’s from Georgia, USA, but now lives, more or less, in Minnesota.