Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2011 v10n1
print version

     after a painting by Charles Bell

Agony the wax–white man in spasm, arched
arms tight as flightless wings, rigid fists on ribs
in Bell’s famous painting Opisthotonus. This
is how swift toxins knit the bony fibers, blight

the spine’s fluid; how our haven is invaded by
needle, nail, fish hook, the rusty still–sharp edge
of plow or handsaw. Here are the spores & here

the porous nerves that make a net for crossing.
The cord cut with a dirty shard. The mourning.
The tiny dialogues that bind our fate, all muscles
taut across the long adrenal squall. Now a cursory

search reveals C. tetani as a random scatter: tiny
rods under the lens, bright dice; as shining piles
of clattered tiles thrown down in games of chance.   end

return to top