Latvia, 1861

A poem by Matt Dennison


A cord of blood sausage wrapped
within his throat, he spat a suet pile
and slipped into the sod-house unseen
by his wife. Never having tried to fire
the crockeries of their time, he squinted
through the mud-slots as she lumbered
about, finally to settle beside a sickly
calf to study its urine pool for signs.
They worked for different sovereigns:
hers a cauldron of entrailed darkness
imbued with bleak idiocy—that biblical
humbug hung fast about their necks—
his a vodka panacea for the pigsties of
their lives, never raised upon the same pike
as the other’s. Nearby, the boy stood
stupid in the sunflowers as an eel-slide
of curses welled his loins to burst upon
them from the sod-house. Fury spent,
he stopped counting and swam into
the sun. Remembering he once had dined
on lobster while his fishwife, frightened
by the cutlery, keened for chum, the sight
of old lemons on the sod-shelf roused him,
crouched behind the serving girl, tonguing
her fresh mustards: delicious, faint, ripe.


After a rather extended and varied second childhood in New Orleans, Matt Dennison’s work has appeared in Rattle, Bayou Magazine, Redivider, Natural Bridge, The Spoon River Poetry Review, and Cider Press Review, among others. He has also developed short films alongside Michael Dickes, Swoon (Marc Neys), and Marie Craven.

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