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Tag: Alienation

The Ravishing Corpse

A Prairie Anxiety


I was a writer who drank.

Then I was a drinker who wrote.

Now I’m a drunk who thinks about writing. 

The Book of Ethan says, “You have to mine your own life. It’s the only way you’re gonna stumble on anything real.” There’s a mama racoon resident in my dumpster brain. I met her under my veranda. She showed me her drained teats and protruding rib cage. Her name is Rhonda and we share what we find. Not all of it is fresh but we’ve raised two healthy litters.

All my procrastination is exhausting—trying to divine what needs to be told; weigh what I feel like telling. We can know it all. I should ask the salamander tattoo on my forearm for advice, but it has never said anything of use.

I want to fix this, to get all my edges neat and clean. Scrape away the ugliness. But it’s easier to derail the truth, limiting it to unintended switches to hoary branch lines or just some minor juddering on the rails. Then last night, confused and anxious, I hurled a locomotive and thirty cars of Saskatchewan potash into Little Llama daycare. An anatomically precise sexual abuse doll and a brace of hamsters were killed. 

It’s so late in the day. So late.

I’m a laggard, staring at the sun—a fading taunt on the horizon. I slouch in this comfortable chair—MacBook Pro burning my thighs a half pint of Buffalo Trace stretching my bladder—facing my limitations. A drunkard watching Mars chase the Moon.

The Moon floats to my triple-paned living room window and we have a whispered conversation while the tides of the Indian Ocean and South China Sea reverse and roar tsunamis toward the coasts of every country in Asia.




The Moon is shameless and unselfconscious of the acne craters, impact scars, and mountainous cysts that cover their face. They blackmail me with the lives of billions of people.

I piss myself. A relief. A prod.

This is a confession?

It comes too soon.

It’s a memoir. A plea for attention?

A speculation? A faux investigation, because I’m the culpable one?

Only I know it all. 

Soon, everyone will know. I’m not sure I have it all down or know what’s real or what’s imagined or manifested and for some of it I only know what I’ve been told. Some of it hasn’t happened and will not happen if I don’t follow the Moon’s injunction.

Maybe you’ve heard this all before, crickets chirping before a thunder boomer. Maybe it’s happened to you. Maybe I did it. Maybe I’m doing it right now. Maybe I did it tomorrow.

Call me a monster, a root-rich hank of your hair wound through my shaking fist.

Every action an effect lacking a clockwork cause.

But pretend it’s all new even if it’s not. It’s not hard, we only think we know. Everything is hindsight and time makes a hash of memory; it’s not a fundamental ticking nor a flashbulb moment, so only extrapolations and lies endure. 

So this is a confession.

It’s up to me; you won’t hear this from someone else.

Only from me.

From me.


Too goddamn late.

A previous version of this prologue is included in The Ravishing Corpse, which made the long list of the 2020 annual 3-Day Novel Contest.
Copyright © Todd Besant. All rights reserved.

Best paired with a soldier of Buffalo Trace in the backseat of an overheated Ford Escort

Reprint and reproduction rights for this story are available for purchase. Contact me for more information on Anthologies, Course Packs, Reading Comprehension Exams, Translations, and Dramatic Adaptations

Photo credit: Hannes Mauerer on

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Scenes From a Spiteful Business

I. Pressure

start in midair, say, on a plane
the change in your ears as you descend–the pressure–is the
weight of the air
it is laid out in the barometric formula, which is
unerring, and explains, too, the freezing drizzle
that pelts the taxi’s windows on the drive from the airport, the cabby
lamenting the goal line fumble
that cost his team a spot in the final–they just couldn’t handle the pressure–you in the back seat, shivering, sour-breathed and
wishing you’d brought an umbrella, whispering under your breath,
just drive, just shut up and drive

II. Force

it was once called the badger game
a man would meet a stranger in a
shop and be offered an envelope of photographs–the man and a woman,
a woman and the man–this man’s wife never needs to know if certain timely
payments were made
your client wants nothing but an end, wishes to
pretend it’s as tidy as cutting in on a couple dancing a saraband in Cario or
another pulsing city
the man in question–his haircut and the knot in his
tie both
too tight–says, there is no evidence to support that claim treats you
like you’re the boy who always spoils it for others but his eyes,
litmus blue ruins, confess he is a man who has lain in the wrong bed
for too
long the sheets still warm to the husband’s palm

III. Release

you spend most of your work hours slouched in your car
a thermos of coffee,
a bottle to piss in, a camera on the passenger seat
your boredom is mute,
unlike your kitchen faucet, which complains in irregular beats
the ice in your glass does not work by inertia, it reaches out cold tendrils
to gather in the whiskey’s heat, much as the mind collects memories
(ice is the
truest archive of the past–consider the soot and seeds at the heart of
glaciers–we cannot beguile ice)
the bartender places a fresh tumbler in
front of you and looks at the man in the corner the
ice clicks against your teeth
you left your offering on his table
later he will insist
he was only seeking shelter

A version of this poem won the Contemporary Verse 2 2003 2-Day Poem Contest.
It first appeared on the Contemporary Verse 2 website.
Copyright © Todd Besant. All rights reserved.

Best paired with Wild Turkey 101 sipped from a pocket flask.

Reprint and reproduction rights for this story are available for purchase. Contact me for more information on Anthologies, Course Packs, Reading Comprehension Exams, Translations, and Dramatic Adaptations

Photo credit: crowt59 on Visualhunt / CC BY

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This blog is written and produced on Turtle Island in Winnipeg, MB, on Treaty 1 Land that is the territories of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, Lakota, Inuit, and Dene peoples, and is the Traditional Homeland of the Métis Nation. All material, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © Todd Besant. All rights reserved. Header photo credit: darkday. on