they tell you that skin had
a reason once, vestigial
like the appendix, the coccyx,
the sparalyntix (that bone
in the ear you can use to call pigs
in times of emergency if you’ve
trained with the right people).
they tell you the reason you’re
only allowed out for three smoke
breaks a day is to preserve your
lungs for the emergency victims
who will require transplants
after you shuffle off this sloe-gin-
and-tonic coil. They tell you
lungs will be at a premium
since an entire continent is on fire
and you should feel safe behind
these thick steel doors.
they tell you the pig-callers
of Cape Arid have trained
their entire lives for just such
an emergency. they tell you
your day will come soon.
Eight of Pentacles
cw: depictions of obsessive-compulsive disorder
There is a dent in the drywall
next to the door. You put on your coat,
knock that dent seven times,
then open the door.
The door leads to the walk, framed
with Thai bamboo, cut to waist height.
You tap the top of each culm
on your way to the car.
The car is a minefield, a labyrinth
of knobs, levels, pedals. You must
placate the monsters that live
under the seat before you drive.
You drive to work, sixteen lights,
six right turns, two left. Your eyes
glued to the road scan for anything
that might stumble into your way.
The way is clear, the office casts
a shadow over your parking space.
You get out, tap the hood ornament
three times, head for the door.
The door is always the same,
but the fingerprints are always
different. You count them
before you go to your desk.
Your desk is as empty as you can
make it. You start the computer,
chant the ritual sotto voce. Of course,
there is a dent in the drywall.
ROBERT BEVERIDGE (he/him) makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry on unceded Mingo land (Akron, OH). Recent/upcoming appearances in Ez.P.Zine, Agapanthus Collective, and Throats to the Sky, among others.