Blood is Semantics

A white, clawfoot tub makes its way across the desert, 
if it was a desert, and not these stones, pebbles, really, 
beneath a moon that would be better off full. Pausing
by the obelisk it teases out the absence. It moves as if

in a trance, or juggling numbers, or as if straining to fit 
a strange fact into a paragraph that no one remembers 
writing. It covers more area than you would ever think
likely. For two days you track this roll-top tub through

the desert, that is not a desert, until finally you arrive at
a poorly formed mesa, and at its foot sits what can only
be a baby, pale and monstrous and tossing appendages 
into the tub, that moves again, slowly across the stones.

It should not be terrifying, the saguaro, except for the teeth.
That, you think, is new, and accounts for all the birds, ravens
and black vultures and those puddles of bones that encircle
the saguaro. The sound that a scavenger makes. It's a braid.

The nightmare that hides behind the eyelids of our dreams
is like an abandoned house sagging into a swamp. An odor
of something rotting slides across the floor. You remember 
a man, wheeling, roostertailing wine, screaming “That’s not 

a fucking painting!  It’s a dead thing doted upon by a dying 
sack of skin!” What’s beneath those boards you decide not 
to think about but you can feel it through your shoes. Some 
windows catch the morning light just so, other windows just 

catch hell. One school of thought maintains that to process
a day’s worth of livestock with a bolt gun you must first free 
yourself from any relic of the pastoral ideal, after that, blood 
is semantics. At dusk, it crawls on in. A vapor lamp. A hum. 

Jeffrey Little (a grid works to blank the mind)
Contents | Mudlark No. 77 (2024)