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  Table of contents Issue Twenty THE VIRTUES OF DIRT AND PINE


The moon sits
a cataract in autumn's pillaged limbs, the heavens
spared what sights its vigilance may grace
in the croaking murk below,
in the cities' chitter-haunted husks
and their shifting, claret-hemmed outskirts.

But not here,

where the moon scrapes taloned shadows
across mementos of marble and lime.
There is no life here, no organs for this blight
to metastasize its impulses through,
no living tissue to blacken dried-apricot-taut
across the shards of new and thirsty fangs.

Just coffin-moss and quiet,

the quiet of a cleaner sorrow than that
caterwauling in the distance.
And I'm reminded of you,
autumn-swept and mine, eyes
not yet the nacreous fires burning
under my throat.

I'm reminded

how I'd rather you lie
with azaleas withering at your feet
than crawl between shadows like the parasites
commandeering your skin,
dragging a banshee's foreboding
over folds I still hold dulcet in reveries

of you,

in every off-guard heartstring plucked
by a statue or the moon or the way the wind outside
kicks through fallen leaves even though your feet
fled bruise-dressed and cloven months ago…
An ellipsis inescapable as the ice-pick-shriek
night whispers through window and dream

when I sleep.

I'd rather have buried you here.
I'd rather have lost you to the craving of dirt and pine
than the one keeping blood between your teeth.
Every wail drifting in on the mists is a misericorde
twisting toward its target, my heart
rent still as these tenanted mounds to fathom
the stake in my one hand…
…and my preciousmost woe in the other.




When not laughing his way through the universe as companion to the 17th Doctor (he calls HER Brittany), Rodney Wilder bellows death-metal verse in Throne of Awful Splendor and writes poetry, with previous work appearing in Tales of the Talisman, The Penwood Review, and Popcorn Press' Cthulhu Haiku II and Halloween Haiku, and his first collection of poetry, Ars Golgothica, released in 2012. Currently working on Stiltzkin's Quill, his geek- and fandom-fueled followup, he enjoys horror movies, emotive soundtracks, and the pride that comes with terrible puns. Follow him at facebook.com/rwilderjr.

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