No one knew they’d have to cut off their tongues to keep those little machines of fire going.
Image from Flickr via Darren Tunnicliff.
By Corey Zeller
Brought to you by the Guernica/PEN Flash Series
The hours are as bright and small as human thumbs, useful as a hand without them. No one knew the rules(1). No one knew they’d have to cut off their tongues to keep those little machines of fire going, incinerating the moons and white crocodiles on our front lawns, the concentration camps below our kitchen sinks. We always thought the flecks of snow(2) peeling through our floorboards were holy(3), not parts of us lost, found. Here: we know every empty factory on a first name basis; stare straight into their one-hundred broken eyes. Our clocks slip slack from the walls, crawl from our houses, and wrap themselves about the heads of stray cats. This is why every alley ticks, why the field has found its place above the ground, why all these empty cars stay empty, lost in the amnesia of gears and alarms, nothing left to count but steps.
1) Everything is possible. Less is probable.
2) My kitchen’s full of smoke.
3) Desire and its consonant, which is what, she asked?
Corey Zeller is the author of Man vs. Sky (YesYes Books, 2013). His work has appeared in Puerto del Sol, Mid-American Review, Indiana Review, The Colorado Review, Diagram, The Kenyon Review, Salt Hill, West Branch, Third Coast, The Literary Review, The Paris-American, New York Tyrant, New Orleans Review, Green Mountains Review, The AWL, Chorus (MTV Books), among others. The title of this piece was written by David Lehman and the footnotes were written by Vanessa Place, Bonnie Jo Campbell, and Campbell McGrath.