Erik Fuhrer

Body Count

 

Petroleum body remembers the first time it tasted oil— slugged down the throat and clogged its lungs—the pipeline that ran through the world had cracked and coughed up oil into the bloodstreams via throatpipes.

 

*

 

Gasoline body wanted water so badly it went right to the sourcepipe—but thick was the color of salvation that day—one could see Gasoline body’s breath congealing at the moment of contact—as if the breath had become an object, something one put in one’s pocket, shimmering.

 

There is still a shape, lodged in the dirt, from the day that Gasoline body hit the pavement and pain fracked a scream from the throat in the shape of an olive that Gasoline body now keeps under its pillow to feed its nightmares.

 

*

 

The climate isn’t changing, the world is just becoming more parts water says the body on the news debate—as if death was a debatable issue—death of the Earth, of bodies, death by water.

 

*

 

The floodwaters come—leave or you will be the cause of your own deaths—you’ve had due warning!

 

A bedridden body closes its eyes—shuddaleft they scream—a body with no wheels just feet and a dozen cans of Campbells creates a makeshift pantry in its bathroom medicine cabinet—must not care about their lives they taunt—prisonbodies crouch in their cells, used to being left behind.

 

 *

 

1 in 100 scientists agree that liquid is the state of God, a shapeshifter with a whole lot of wrath says the pearltoothed preacher body high on swigs of holy water—a slumped turnip body with a labcoat nodding behind him.

 

When the floodwaters rise, bodies are caught in this liquid God’s feverdream—the Church on high is their only salvation but the preacher body is too busy praying at its altar that it forgets about the other bodies—nobody can disturb his holy body when it is a praying body.

 

Bodies pound and knock pleading sanctuary to the locked church doors–until their fists deaden the thunderwind and they become liquid—slip through the cracks in the door that their fists make—become themselves the God of destruction—and sweep the olive branch from the altar as they rush the pulpit.

 

*

 

Some important white men once said: “those were the pearls that were his eyes”—though many eyes are slowly filling with oil—as water thieves into superfund sites in Houston—reminding the world of its dirty little secrets—but some bodies have always been haunted—their houses built on toxic remains—their bodies breathing in the dust of industry’s buried bones—lead in the stomachs of bodies in Flint—oil in blood, breastmilk, saliva, of those whose bodies will never become pearls—who were gifted coal eyes as pearl bodies ate oysters in the sky.

 

 

[the man with the 8 millimeter]

 

doesn’t understand that NRA stands for

never

returning

    again

 

 

after an open gunshot wound

to the head

or the heart

or the parts of the body where flesh yields to bone yields to sky

 


Erik Fuhrer is a PhD and MFA candidate in English and poetry at the University of Notre Dame. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in BlazeVox, Noble/Gas QRTRLY, Third Wednesday, Dream Pop, and various other venues.

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