Southern Legitimacy Statement: Edward Burke (dba strannikov) now lives for the second time in his life south of the Red River demarcating Texas from Oklahoma. He grew up in South Carolina, and growing up once there was plenty, although he has paid numerous return visits over the years (but never for longer than fifteen years at a stretch . . . not that he has anything against the Carolinas, since it will always be where he is from). Longitudinal orientation does not seem to burden his artistic vision, at least as long as he maintains latitudinal stability: that said, neither longitude nor latitude can account fully for what he sees or how he reports it–he now credits the planet’s ceaseless velocity for any rattling inside his skull.
Permit we wish these shining times be brief:
from abattoirs does clinging fragrance creep,
with jagged nails and sinking teeth it clings
long since the stage of letting spilled blood sing.
Reports have come from no detachèd heads,
dismembered corpses, conjurors long dead,
from cauterized souls long ago once bled—
the trenches here steer only shallow blood,
exsanguinations yield but modest glut.
Ambitions of this far-flung universe
crave profits on this globe—how spurious:
most animals are poor with soft soft hands
that never learned extraction’s deft demands:
hands by their touch with blood ’s what makes them hard
the only hands with skill enough to’ve learned
to separate the quick from dead and dead—
extraction skills must long remain a plus,
for dainties harvested on which we glut!
Our demons know our secrets lurking deep—
thus are they hatched, from buried wills they leap:
through fractures and the flaws adorning skulls,
from tempests boiled hot in purblind souls
(mere playthings of a devil and its god,
both keen to hear our flesh fry in our bogs).
Alas, what bellies full must long be fed
for dynasties to rule with decades’ lusts—
hearts glutted, pounding pulsing pumping glut.
Such secret words escape now under breath:
“disenchantment”? “disaffection”? —what next?
Five centuries it took to get us here,
the blood and work it took to get us here!
Could you’ve forgotten all that must be done?
To stand upon this treadmill earth, you run!
To captive all this world, its pleasures bed—
five hundred years can never scrape the crusts
of hungers’ appetites for feeding glut!
This is no age for puny squeamish-souled:
you’ll see things soon not once in nightmares told.
You dare not swallow, but you cannot spit.
Our alchemists approach with hieroglyphs
themselves and us so keen to save foremost—
do stand aside or be swept by their host.
No matter when Earth dies, claws sharp with dread
will clasp this world, will grip it tight, will clutch:
until death feeds on us, we glut on glut!