Outside the skin, there’s a temperature
that curls blood at its edges, like gauze

layered too thin will lift while drying.
After death, bodies mark time bloomed

in decay—a calendar knowing the value
seconds play in reclamation. To erase

silhouettes, hydrogen peroxide poured
onto spills explodes cells by chemistry.

In an-Najaf, I watched a man’s wound
flitter off his skin, knowing he’d died
two days prior, before I broke his body

free from concrete by dissolving dregs
of catalase. This is all that remained
after ten pints of that man’s blood pooled

about him. Tonight, in a bar surrounded
by friends, I’ll drink one third as much
as he held inside, but won’t tell his story.

Michael Loruss

Michael Loruss is from Southern California and served three years in the United States Army as a medic. He graduated from Berea College, where he studied English literature. Currently, he attends the creative writing MFA program at Hollins University.