Tadgh O'Criomhthain


Bury the toenails in the back yard, build an entity that is nearly all soul, very little mouth; breathe, pestle fools to cinder, mount a horse and travel to Borodino like you grandfather after the war. Small mouths elicit very few altruistic neural firings, mesocorticolimbic clefts left drying like small finger holds, collecting bat guano, stale comment, little else. After the egg, after the ox, grandma and the booze and grandpa at the helm of a mad torrent of damp skin and nostalgic finger picking; you live in reverse with the past pending, a remonstrating Sullivan leering from behind barns, tossing rocks to piss the horse. You will continue to stack dirt on top, well beyond necessity, mounting a geologic oddity, unwell famous paupers beating glass, pacing the walls of an insomniac’s ant farm, unshaken. Hoot, breathe, still, patting dirt, a patriarchal mound; a fallow pubis governed by a merkinship of silent soil is bristled by wind. Crows flock. I will kiss at your sweaty face as you pat your shovel, whistling the pool hall madrigal of whipped saints. Do you realize all that we’ve done despite the taste of sour children, the ripe bruises on their small little backs, that stone throwing O’Groifa and all he’s done? When your hair was dark as clots and my smell was of March we stole away after the barn burned and the first murdering Griffin banged the slowest cow, a mewling cant of smile and wet grass and we looked at one another and we knew it was the work of O’Groifa, calling tunes from his hare-lipped rookery, hostel of intransigent bastardry. Pat your shovel. I scratch my skin, lamb’s bladder stuffed with river rock, repulsed from the inside, pressed outward by endocrine and animus and gravity and moonlight. Look, I know, we have made a leap and he cannot throw stones from a snake’s briar any longer, and yet you drink for what, a remorseless night’s rest? We know, the death, a dying, O’Groifa, at the door for a truce and a slow stew, sewing together neighbors in a grey roil of pipe smoke and cocksong, and you knew it, the hollowness of the sham; his very teeth could tell stories that his mouth would feign, eyes belie. O’Groifa, I remember how he held his neck when you stabbed him with your own hickory pipe, slamming the Dutch door to spare the carpet. He twirled, and the crows in tow picked him at his edges until he stood like a wraith pinned to the devils lorry, spurting Sullivan, folk folly, and phlegm; goodbye, O’Groifa, you shovelman’s delight, I cried. You exhaled half, and what remained issued from the broken pipe stem with the slow candor of burning peat. He fell, you hushed, I comforted; don’t worry, guilt is for the gull that spoils the picnic and you are a stone wall unturned.

Tadgh O'Criomhthain lives in Baltimore and is finishing his first novel, 'Unknown

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