Author: Connie Vaughn

P. leaned against the rocks and said, “I’m tired,”
to no one in particular, which was just fine
since no one was there. Or rather, only
the liver-eating eagle who cocked his head,
curious at the sound of a man talking
instead of screaming. “Give me the key,”
said P. suddenly. Somehow compelled, the bird
complied, dropping the whole ring from his bill.
P. stepped out of the ancient shackles.
“It doesn’t all matter so very much,
does it,” he said to no one in particular, as he
stomped the burning brand into the dust,
turned and walked easily down the mountain.

                                    Later, dead,
we excavated a context for this
unexpected losing of an earth.

God said she’d tried to warn us, but
we’d put her into voicemail.
This was, of course, quite true.

We rode in smoking cars,
for speed and
sealed individualized
environments. Geologies vaporized for us
in stunning light shows.
drowned out the screaming.

we could admit
that there was never
any snake, saying
Eat this tree. Go on. Eat them all.


“The World and the Fall” previously appeared in an anthology, Wild Things: Domestic and Otherwise, Outrider Press.

Sleep is just a way of counting
the centuries. I couldn’t keep my eyes
open when I thought of the thickets you would
go through. There was a kind of absence
in the king’s mood, and the ladies in waiting
really wouldn’t, at least not that long.
I don’t think I had a choice.

Lying down was a hard ride. The dreams
stung my insides and twisted my sense
of direction. The pricking of my thumbs
and the hairs at the back of my neck
reminded me of something I was forgetting—
a kettle on the open flame, a flatiron
left face down on a fabric. Settling
into those strange regurgitations of
yesterday, I left it to work itself out,
or burn down the place, whichever.

You age more slowly when you’re moving.
I was the one standing still (or rather lying), which didn’t
do us any good at all. You should have found me
as decrepit as my dress, crumbling to dust
around your bootprints. In fact I was buck naked
when you took my hand, which no one ever tells
anymore—but still as soft as the day I first spun
this tale. And you, a hundred years my junior,
losing the horse and other useless accoutrements,
hacking away at my defenses to get to that soft
core of home.