In the foreground, we happened before, off-camera, and after newscasters ran out of air. We are the nightmare props, the jump scares that remind survivors not everyone succeeds. We’re still buckled up and desiccated traffic jams fleeing to nowhere, embraced in kissing suicide pacts found in the reek of a house gripping bottles of pills, and wearing nooses to hang on the scraps of civilization. We danced our bodies thick in flames until falling charred in the smoldering forecast calling for more gloom.
We are the tangled skeletons holed up in a room for the failed last stand, a few bullets short and one entry point forced ajar, testifying we took out some, but still got swarmed. We are the majority that never had time to contemplate survival, leaving our skulls draped open in muted screams.
Let our strewn carcasses do the talking. Let their hearts harden and their eyes look past us. Let survivors become scavengers. Let them inherit our weapons and hunger. We don’t need anything from the living and we don’t need to envy them anymore.
We grow into the massing undead, bite by bite, infected by voodoo, viruses, and raw cravings for flesh.
In the beginning, you will be slow to know we’re all dead, giving no resistance to our teeth punctured red into flesh.
We sleepwalk through our jobs and haunts, watching the world rot by, until we smell your sweaty, glistening flesh.
With adrenaline switched off, we keep marching against guns and knives defending your fragile flesh.
Hobble us. Parse us. Pulverize us to meat until you learn brains must die. We won’t stop thinking about your flesh.
We are slower than you expect until you trip yourself up, cornered into offering up your supple flesh.
When you’re wounded or expired, we will welcome you, zombie, once you’ve turned to rotting away into your undead flesh.
NUTS AND SCREWS
Rusted and stripped, thank you for eating hours instead of seconds, for getting me past “fuck it,” for breaking hacksaw blade and drill bits, for ignoring WD40, for turning, round and round forever, for holding it all together when I don’t know how to.
Juan J. Morales is the son of an Ecuadorian mother and Puerto Rican father. He is the author of three poetry collections, including Friday and the Year That Followed, The Siren World, and The Handyman’s Guide to End Times(UNM Press). His poetry has appeared on/in CSPAN2, Copper Nickel, Pleiades, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and others. He is a CantoMundo Fellow, a Macondista, the Editor/Publisher of Pilgrimage Press, and Department Chair of English & World Languages at Colorado State University-Pueblo. Follow him on Twitter @ChairmanJuan.
Artwork from “Graveyard Shift” by Zandria Ann Sturgill.