Payback – Ruby Speechley

Some days Otto leaves me sitting in my own urine for hours. I guess I can’t grumble. I picture myself sunbathing in the garden below. Back then it was Otto confined to his bedroom. Screaming until he made himself choke. Rattling the whole cot like it was a goddamn cage.

That day I couldn’t take any more. I pressed my eyes shut, felt for the teeth of the radio dial and clicked it up a few notches, so the newsreader was shouting at me. When the banging from the bedroom grew louder, I threw down my sunglasses and marched up the stairs.

Otto’s mouth widened into a red gash, his screams splitting my soul. He stood there naked, a brown rainbow smeared on the wall, the stench enough to rouse the dead. And then he went quiet and urinated from his shrivel of flesh, holding my stare as he did it.

He smirks as he comes in. I plead with him to lift the blind. I need to see the jury of crows lined up on the quivering telephone wire, watching me. He shoves a tray on my lap, ties a tea towel around my neck, pulls it a little too tight. He feeds me hot grey soup. The shape of the spoon is branded into my tongue. I cough and splutter over the bed sheets, over him. I wince, waiting for a thud of his fist on my crown. Instead he takes a corner of the tea towel and dabs my lips.

After, he sits next to me in silence. It’s almost dark. The crows have long flown home. He tips his head so the side of his face lands gently on my shoulder. My body stiffens. I have to remind myself that he is my son.


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Photo by Bastien Jaillot on Unsplash

Dinosaur Pants – William Doreski

Put on these pants, run your hands
down your thighs. Like the scales?
Wearing dinosaur pants honors

the common pool of DNA
from which all poetics derive.
You wonder what dinosaurs left

inscribed or impressed in mud
besides their notorious pawprints.
Sometimes prowling riverbeds

in search of polished garden stones
I find in the sandstone ledge
runic scrawls a reptile claw

might have penned in a moment
of reflection on the forthcoming
and predictable mass extinction.

Although I can’t read these marks
by touching them I feel a throb
in my brain that corresponds

to the ache for mutual expression
that binds us to trees and mice.
You know that feeling: a whisk

of fibers across tingling nerves,
a pleasure rooted too deeply
to betray its source. Wearing

dinosaur pants in public
proclaims your allegiance to facts
that foil the religious fools

who rely too much on one brave book
to shield them from the distance
that pours like milk through us all.

You look good in that tight fabric,
the green-gray scales flattering
your gunpowder complexion,

and your confident stride folding
and unfolding dinosaur-thoughts
that never go out of fashion.


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WILLIAM DORESKI’s work has appeared in various e and print journals and in several collections, most recently A Black River, A Dark Fall (Splash of Red, 2018). 

Image: InspiredImages

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