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Dissections logo scissors body by Deena Warner


Dissections logo pterodactyl by Deena Warner





I Imagine My Birth

Bryan Dietrich

The house is like a stage, like a series of stages,
each one nestled deeper in darkness, hidden
by heavier curtains, quieter, more surely baffled.
Past the portico where flames shoot high into old
Oklahoma sky, past the crush of patrons mesmerized
by the madman with a chainsaw dancing to death
metal on the roof, at the first stage, a dead man rises
from his coffin like a rake left lying on a dying
lawn.  He points us toward the next set scare. 
Here, another madman, a glass wall.  He reaches
into cadaver cavity, scoops out terrible trinkets,
flings them against glass.  They leave snail trails. 
We move on, deeper into the haunted house, our own
trails lingering in the phosphorescent light.  Past
the last cannibal, weird werewolf forest - right turn
at flaming lake, left at Mummies R Us, two gibbets
over from the iron maiden - we find a final stage.
Tesla coils, eerie oils, casks, horrible Erlenmeyer
flasks.  The sanity free scientist invites a volunteer. 
Me, of course me.  I've wanted this since I first read
Brown's "Armageddon," envied Henning, haloed
Houdini.  I step to the stage, enter the bloody
chamber.  The door closes.  Outside, my family
sees only halogen globes, strobes, lightning lash. 
A crash, one last flash, and out I lope.  Shorter,
stranger, oblivious to kith and kin.  I am ten again.


I Imagine My Son's Future
Bryan Dietrich

I imagine my son's future.  It is the shape of a saucer,
embedded in ice, all alone at the top of the world. 
My son's future is archeological, as much an art
of fiction as of fact, as ancient as the stars it still inhabits
in its perpetual thaw of dreams.  Cold and blue, humming
softly beneath the surface, its energy endless as eons,
my son's future has had time - time as old as the oldest
Oort objects - to imagine its escape.  It imagines the man,
the many men, to come.  Scientist, poet, bush pilot,
computer commando…it won't matter who goes.  There.
It imagines how they will come, with tools.  Pipelines
and pick-axes, thermometers and thermite.  The men
and women will come.  They will set this thing free. 
My son's future sees them standing in a circle, awed
by the wreck they have released, awed and oddly petrified
by the permafrost they've set swinging like a bell.  Those
who have come will watch the hatch iris open, an alien
emerge and, at first, will want to kill it, cure it, claim it
as their own.  Eventually though, when the storm has passed,
other worlds still arcing on their axels above, when my son's
future has had its chance to change them, it will become
them, and then…then they will await, like it, the future.


The Monster, the Master and the Windmill
Bryan Dietrich

So much like a sacrifice:  Henry, the Monster,
caught up like wicks in a wicker man set aflame. 
When the peasants came at last - angry, aghast
over the sheer audacity of his love for one of them,
the Gypsy's love for something they saw as less
than they (what for having once been more) - the Master,
one Henry Frankenstein, led the chase.  And though they had to
swim, practically, through cardboard seas of carnival
oddities, castoffs, bearded women, little people,
those of the alligator persuasion, though even carneys
and barkers fought them for a while, the mob, the critical
mass of it, rousted Monster from his wagon, drove him
to strike his maker down, escape the circus and trade
his heart for the hills, little god in tow.  Now, hand to hand,
embracing the more mortal side of combat, they seem to dance -
mad, inarticulate marionettes wed to flame.   Here,
trapped between fire, fall, and windmill blade, unaware,
perhaps, of the Quixotic irony fate has found them in,
they struggle.  One machine, one man.   One maker, one
unmade.   Shifting, changing leads, each step clocking them
closer to the sweep of the mill's strong right arm, one falls,
snags on a sail, catches it just long enough to understand
reach.   The other, waking from ruin, will haul himself up
from ash, return to a ring not too unlike the one he'll give
the Gypsy, now that he is, as always, presumed dead.


The Monster's Retirement
Bryan Dietrich

He started, the Gypsy recalls, with scribbles. 
Worked his way up to painting dead flowers,

roses taped to a wall upside down, each
petal grown crisp and cracked and black.  She can

still see them, every purpled stem, like tintypes,
lifecasts cast from a green that sapped away.

And the frescos he painted them on - God,
hundreds of pounds.  Layer after layer

of base coat, eggwhite, linseed oil, stuff
she made baklava with.  Sometimes, she says,

it took months to lay a neutral surface,
a place he could finally, properly

re-inter the dead.  His late period
dwelled on corpses, women for the most part

whose cold arms embraced nothing, whose slack breasts
lay sunken as only the breathless can sink.

Open mouths, open eyes, stale blood gathered
in odd hollows and straggling - a stiff

afterthought - in jagged twigs of hair.
This shift, she says, took years.  From the bones

of flowers to voluptuousness.   Blue nudes.


The Monster's Last Lesson
Bryan Dietrich

This is the word the Gypsy heard.

This is the Monster
who made the word the Gypsy heard.

This the Master
who made the Monster
who said the last word the Gypsy heard.

This is the madness
that made the Master
who built a monster
who'd say his last word to a Gypsy.

This is the dirge
that urges madness,
eggs on masters
who build their monsters
to say last words to Gypsies.

A sixteenth sunshine, eighty-fourth shade. 
Nature's dirge.
The potion of madness
concocted by masters
who build each monster
believing in last words, in Gypsies.

This is the man a madman made,
a sixteenth sunshine, eighty-fourth shade,
the bar of a dirge,
a pinch of madness,
dash of Master,
every bit the dashing Monster,
one who'd say his final words to a mourning Gypsy.

This is the pie-bald crazy quilt,
the raggedy man a madman made,
sixteen in sunshine, eighty-four in shade,
the heat of the urge
where light found madness
and gave it the Master
to fill his monster
with fragments, words, at last to give the Gypsy.

This is the Monster the Master built,
pied and bald like a crazy quilt,
a raggedy man a madman made
from that six tenths sunshine found in shade
of funerals, dirges,
the hanging madness
that plagued this Master
and passed to his monster
and on to the words he'd finally leave the Gypsy.

These are the stakes one snakes from death,
betting on monsters the Master built,
pied and bald like the crazy quilt
wrapping this man the madman made
of a sixteenth sunshine, a bit more shade,
out of a dirge
and out of madness,
his own, the Master's.
And now the Monster
has learned a word at last to leave a melancholy Gypsy.

This is what journeymen build from breath,
snag from the stakes they've bluffed from death,
shape into monsters a Master built
of pie-bald patches of crazy quilt
that wrap this ragged, madman-made,
one sixteenth sunshine, eighty-fourth shade,
piece of madness
of some Master
who's losing his monster
to a word.  The one he's telling the Gypsy.

This is the death he knows to die,
learned from a journeyman trained in breath,
from pulling out stops from breaking death,
from being a monster the Master built
from a pie-bald life like a crazy quilt,
from being both ragged and madman-made
from that sixteenth sunshine, eighty-fourth shade,
from out of dirges,
and out of madness,
from the Master,
and now the Monster
knows what to say, a word to share with the Gypsy.

Here, on the bed where dead men lie,
dying a death he knows how to die,
lies a lone journeyman bartered from breath,
snagged off the scaffold, cheated of death.
Here lies the Monster the Master built,
a pie-bald, ribald, crazy quilt,
a raggedy man a madman made
in six days of sunshine, four eighths shade.
He urges a dirge,
free from the madness,
at last from his Master. 
No more the Monster.
This is the word the Gypsy heard.  Her first, his last, just Gypsy.

Dissections logo pterodactyl by Deena Warner
Website maintained by Michelle Bernard - Contact michelle.bernard2@ntlworld.com - last updated May 24, 2012