23 October 2009 | Vol. 9, No. 3
If there is something to be devoured, there is something to be devoured, this taste of whatever it is that makes things taste, the touching of tongues and the speaking of tongues in various languages, words that I have never heard, meanings that can never be parceled from the letters formed, these looping curves, these straight angles, up and to the left like angels circling above like buzzards, like vultures, all things holy and good, our bodies eaten by the earth, by creatures much smaller than us, ones that we have cut into pieces to watch them divide, rumors, only, nothing can survive being halved, not you, not me, not worms the dirt that gets into the threads of our clothes, the fibers of our being when it rains, shoelaces untied and soaking in puddles as we walk down avenues and back lots, past architecture stores and abandoned football fields where children may have played once, perhaps in the fall, perhaps before ghost stories of young boys being tackled, piled upon, their necks cracked and heads spun around inside of their helmets, and the challenged screamed from the white chalked lines, this racing of ghosts, this using of death, someone’s son living on in stories meant to keep children awake at night at lock-ins at churches and sleepovers where we eat cake and ice cream before being left to devour each other while the parents stay upstairs, levels away from us, staircases, steps, foundation, architecture away from us.
How horrible we are where we cannot be seen, sleeping bags run under bath tub faucets, the nylon beading up and repelling the water before soaking through, the popping of air mattresses after jumping from staircase landings (surely no one can hear us down here, despite bodies clumsily flying through the air and landing with crunches on carpets sticky from dropped candy, saturated in syrup water, sugar made from cornstalks on plains far away from here, kernels ground in mechanic teeth and extracted, a sugar sweeter than sugar, sweeter than nature, sweeter than our nature and our demeanor as someone gets an elbow to the eye-socket, a tearful bruise, surely no one can see us up there, not our mothers who are asleep in their beds, but not asleep in their beds, their child sleeping away from them since before they were born, children sleeping and spinning like festival fare, kicking up fluid, batter, the Latin word for cake, this organ of ephemera looking after the child, this older sibling discarded after serving as a wall of fire letting sugar come and waste go, this active management of third stage involving extraction and being left to burn, we no longer need this protection so we burn and bury, leave it out for the ravens to pluck at with their teeth, pulling with their claws like favorite shirts proclaiming favorite teams bought for birthdays stretched out during male savagery, you should have known better than to wear that into war, face purpled before making phone calls home, waking parents who never slept with you gone) imagining mothers and fathers staying up wondering if you’ll ever return, you imagine them sleeping soundly because they thought that these boys were guests, that there is a code here, that their child was one of them and not swine, tusks piercing skin and breaking glasses like broken peppermint.
When you leave it is not because of the racing of ghosts, you are not scared of these things, these ideas of a dead twin protecting you in the womb before the Aymara and their pixilated flag, so different from the first flag, the afterbirth of an emperor, bury him, protectorate, thing of all things that could teach you how to fight back somehow, giant that you are and what you represent, unable to punch or swing a pillow without causing rupture and time out, this inability to fight fair because of who you are, this inability to fight at all, in fear of being eaten by a ghost from the inside and replaced, this is not what you are scared of, no, it isn’t that at all, these are lions and wolves of extraordinary meekness, despite their bites and barbs, their wanting to break fingers so that they can play, they can put their hand on the controller and control the men on the screen punching crates and picking up pieces of wood, imagining themselves larger than they are and with a press of a combination of buttons they jump in the air, feet parallel to the ground as they barrel into unnamed droves, laughing, oinking and snarling, split-hooved and savage to each other, unclean with their sticky hands.
You, O, the only O, the only child, the ruminator, ruminate.
You think of methods to keep your mind safe and to save them all, despite wanting to sacrifice them all to the goddess of Mysteries and the bringer of seasons and the bringer of nights that are not this night.
To be bold. To have manhood stripped by witches to save the swine, this camaraderie of men.
This is what you can comprehend because there is nothing else that you can comprehend, that all this is necessary to survive and that this is how relationships are formed, with bloody noses and bruised psyche, that this is what it means to be men.
About the author:
Brian Oliu is originally from New Jersey and currently lives in Alabama. His work is featured in New Ohio Review, Ninth Letter, Southeast Review, Brevity, DIAGRAM, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Best Creative Nonfiction Vol. 2, and others. This is an automated message.