Booked

by Matthew Bruce Harrison

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 whole 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 Harrison’s writing can be found in West Branch, Yemassee, Carolina Quarterly, Texas Review, Adroit Journal, Cincinnati Review, Bayou, Gargoyle and Permafrost, among others. His poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart and for the Best of the Net Anthology, and his fiction has been nominated for the storySouth Million Writers Award and was a finalist for the Mid-American Review Sherwood Anderson Fiction Prize. Originally from Georgia, he now lives and teaches in Minnesota.

the second of April
Waiting on biscuits
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