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Flash Fiction


Poetry by Marcus Trimble


Polo Gets Ass-Backward, Stranded in Lapland


Oh the girls the girls were so

sweet and dark, faces tanned

like hard little acorns, their hands

so light, their breath tasting

of salmon, soaked in roses,

preserved. I bought twenty-three

for a cask of pepper and a sharp

carving knife but they suffered

on the ship, their eyes yellowing,

teeth rattling in their gums;

when dipped into the ocean

to revive their spirits, they simply

swam away like so many guttural fish. 





The road bent out and back, and the way

forward turned on him, and turned

again. His footprints faced backwards,

and fit a man three times his size.

He marked the path with what he had,

left various marks, signs, bits of himself;

he found them in a heap, ears atop his toes,

fingers mounting his thighs. His tongue

lay with his spleen, their children ill-mannered,

full of hate. His liver ran off with his pancreas.

From Uruguay came a postcard: the mountains are lovely, we all send love.



Here There Be Monsters


There must be something about her hair,

the light from the window, something

basic. Her hands move as she speaks,

as if the articulation of the small bones

could tell him what to do, where to go,

as if the path of her hands in the morning light

could sketch a map, a passage into the darkness:

walled cities filled with silk and spice, a country

where the trade routes are clearly defined

and there are no blank spaces, nothing unknown

crouched beneath the metallic surface of the water.

This is how it ends: She stands and leaves him sitting

staring at the faint impression she has left on the couch,

watching it draw into itself and disappear, fabric

springing back with a rustle, a sigh.



Achilles, Later, Home from the Wars


Thick around the middle, badly

in need of a haircut, he spends most days

in the kitchen, eating, staring out the window

at the chickens in the backyard. He keeps

a garden, some goats, a few acres of grapes.

He's sometimes called to make an appearance

at public functions, symposiums, affairs

of state. He takes down the breastplate

from the mantle, sucks in his stomach

as his wife cinches the straps, her hands

like doves, gentle, touching him here, and there.

She straightens the feathers on his helmet,

looks him over, her head cocked. After

the parades he sits in his chair, rubs

his swollen feet, wonders what she will cook

for dinner. Occasionally, in the bathroom,

walking back from town, he's struck

with a stray pain in his knee; he looks

quickly to the sky, looks for rain,

a sign of some sorts, something written

in the clouds. He sleeps little, lies awake

at night and listens to her snore, feels

the cool wind blow in from the coast,

arranging and disarranging his hair, whispering

something to the sunburned skin of his ears.

Some nights, too drunk to stand, he takes his chair

out to the backyard, sits with the chickens, head

thrown back to stare at the stars, picking

at a piece of meat caught between his teeth.