by Joe Kapitan
I ask what news have you of your travels, and you say it’s true that there is a furnace at the molten heart of the earth, and in the pooled flame wades the devil, charred and seething, and upon his shoulders perch demons, winged and wronged, and on their spiked shoulders stand the false prophets, buttercream liars, and above them, feet upon shoulders, stand multitudes of murderers through vertical miles — dictators, gladiators, mass-weapon innovators, ninjas and Nazis, Genghis, Gacy.
You talk, and outside the day hemorrhages light, and the snow is dying, dragging its filthy remnants back into the shadows beneath the trees, back behind the shed where I left you.
You talk, climbing ever crustward, and you say you’ve seen terrorists holding up the thieves standing amidst fossilized frames of ancient monsters, joked with the thieves steadying gluttons who lodge their ponderous guts between the foundations of skyscrapers, mocked the gluttons stretching flabby arms to support the adulterers tangled in the roots of oaks , and you end there, dusk-silent, and I can hear the drips of melting ice from gutters and I can feel your fingers stretch up through the dirt, an apology.
If the devil stands on his toes, I say, I’ll grab your hand and pull you up, and the days will grow warmer and we’ll till the earth with what you did, plant what I did, and what grows will be all ours, our second decade in thorns for tearing skin, our first decade in husks for breaking teeth, and fruit that runs with the sugar that began us.
You don’t answer, which is the answer. Spring is lost and there is no time for tilling and there is no mercy in your grip and the devil bends at the knees to make room.
Joe Kapitan lives in northern Ohio, on land that once was the shore of an ancient sea, one million years too late for oceanfront living. His writing has appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, PANK, elimae, Necessary Fiction, and others, and is pending print publication in Fractured West and Bluestem.