The Butcher’s Fifth Quarter

By Farid Matuk

if the story reached
cemeteries’ poor sides
in the countries we left
would their walls
of niches listen, no
position needed, no future
needed at the susceptible
horizon behind us
I refuse rage
driven up the nose
of the whole head really
and lip and lip, liver
and asshole, heart
brain, tongue
at the swallowing edge
that dying opens trade
the butcher’s cheap meat
for stones to throw in
the first is sleep
the second, industry
dismissed, the third
and fourth stones are missing
the fifth is having steeped
so casually and so long
in white pain
that at the sixth we ask
after a familiar smell
why it triggers no memory
at the seventh
drink all the water
even as it turns
to money, at least
one of the stones
tends to be last light
the eighth is bedsheets
on the couch
any fold a niche opening
a crevice to carry the voice—
stalwart, swallowed, wavering—
on the ninth stone I bear you
and you from those countries’
sanctified boxes
to me—the orders,
the orders—
on the tenth stone
closer to me

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