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in severall of the buts of beare, great heapes of stuff was found at the bottom of the buts not unlike to men’s guts, which has alarmed the sea men to a strange degre.
—Admiral of the Fleet Edward Russell

There are the worms we bring with us, festooning
our stomachs like crepe streamers. There are the worms

who bring themselves, ninjaed in the potting soil, wrapped
around roots, a filth-mouthed stomach. But you, O Self-

Generating Specimen, are like bees from a sheep’s body,
decomposition buzzed into being, an uncaring slough

of yeasted slop. Sailors eat weevilled hardtack, protein
swimming in weak tea. Old meat green with age,

gray from boiling, made bloody from sore gums, seesaw teeth.
O Great Heap, O Intestinal Visaged, you’re drunk

if you think fouled beer won’t pass these lips. You’ll be drunk
by my kind or the sea-spawned scavengers. Our unintelligible guts,

our inverse insides we were never meant to see. And yet,
O Maelstrom at the Barrel’s Bottom, your pink-purple ripples

so perfect, so undulate, O Unshelled Snail, I can’t look away.

 

 

[Editor’s Note: Publication of this poem was made possible by a gift from Derek Nason during our annual Kickstarter.]



Andrew Kozma’s poems appear in Rogue Agent, Redactions, and Contemporary Verse 2, while his fiction appears in The Dread Machine, ergot, and Analog. His first book of poems, City of Regret, won the Zone 3 First Book Award, and his second book, Orphanotrophia, was published in 2021 by Cobalt Press.
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26 Feb 2024

I can’t say any of this to the man next to me because he is wearing a tie
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