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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 ( 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.

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