By Nancy Hightower

this fear      flesh-chained,

sweated beyond the taste of salt, blood dusted.

you feel the body like never before—

broken into pieces, four quarters,

a diced game where you are passed around

from one soldier to the next

before you’re hanging from a tree,

naked as Adam

and just as dirty.


even this garden holds shame;

the bent head, silent begging for cups to pass,

be filled with someone else’s drinking.

now you are the orphan, the sinner.

your men huddle together, already widowed

while angels flutter about like birds soon to die.

above you, the barren hill,

broken skull, rusted nails.

a myth in the making, but always yours,

the dying.



Nancy Hightower’s short fiction and poetry has been published in Strange Horizons, Word Riot, storySouth, Gargoyle, Interfictions, Prick of the Spindle, and The New York Quarterly, among others.  Her debut novel Elementari Rising came out with Pink Narcissus Press in 2013, and her poetry “The Acolyte” will be published by Port Yonder Press. She currently reviews science fiction and fantasy for The Washington Post.

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