The Daily Grind

A Coke truck runs a red light
and all three tons of it
crush the car in front of me.
Just like that,
a man headed to work
is swept from the road.
And what a sound: the thwack of steel
as it smashed
through his door then chest,
ribs exploding
like a windshield
into thousands of sparkling bits.
And then silence,
through which I rush
on foot towards the smoking wreck,
only to find what's almost more
than my ontological mind can bear:
how the man's green eyes
gaze forever skyward,
how his fingers
still clutch the wheel,
how his open mouth
forms a perfect circle
of inaudible terror,
or was it awe?

On Piety
       -429 A.D.

As two gladiators rage
and hack at each other,
Telemachus, a monk,
dashes across the Colosseum's floor.
Sixty-thousand fans gasp.
He separates the two slaves,
and the sixty thousand hiss,
but when he kneels
in prayer between them,
well this is just too much.
The fans, enraged, rush the ring.
They pile upon the monk
and, bare-handed, dismember him
until the Caesar's elite guard
can stomp out the riot.
Blood-speckled fans return
to their seats, while slaves
sweep up the limbs
and scraps of Telemachus.
They’re tossed to caged dogs,
are gone within seconds.
Meanwhile the match resumes.

Belly folds:

the pale flab that hangs over the sharp edge
of your belt; the sweaty rolls that rumble
when you eat bad fish stew; the only spot
on your body where boneless skin
chafes boneless skin; the creases
in which lives your outermost shame.
And sure they're sad reminders
of gravity's constant work: taking you down
alive. And sure they're embarrassing
to follow into rooms, especially restaurants,
nightclubs, weddings, and class reunions.
And certainly they’re the loneliest
stretch of self: so rarely caressed,
and even more rarely kissed.
But those flesh-hills, so gentle,
are sewn with hair soft as summer grass,
and they mark you a sensualist:
one who follows the mouth to pleasure.
And what sight could be better
than their wild, concussive jiggles
when laughter explodes the buried heart?


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Editor's Note


SNR's Writers


Seth Michelson lives in New York, where he currently teaches in Adelphi University's Honors College and Sarah Lawrence College's Young Writers Program. 
A new chapbook of his, Maestro of Brutal Splendor, is forthcoming in December 2005 from Jeanne Duvall Editions.

Copyright 2005, Seth Michelson. This work is protected under the U.S. copyright laws. It may not be reproduced, reprinted, reused, or altered without the expressed written permission of the author.