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The nights there in the mountains
were cool, almost cold
and we spent the summer
tilling, churning, and sipping
moonshine and sweet sable wine.

One night we got an old
TV-VCR combo working
and watched My Cousin Vinny
four or five times
and laughed at all the jokes
and at the way things used to be.

We never talked about the war,
but instead nailed it to an aspen
near the latrine and regarded it
sometimes, warily in passing
our tragedies kept neatly
on the shores of conversation,
sealed safe in the half-dream
mumbles of predawn waking.

Still on quiet evenings,
you could almost hear
the world falling out there
somewhere, everywhere
beyond the sunset.

We knew that the bugs
would find us eventually,
the signs were all around us:
the bird cherries turned black in spring,
swarms of salmon flies
dropped dead out of the sky,
the body of a malformed doe
not two miles from camp
her left flank half a-comb
of dripping hive honey.

And one night,
Rache even woke
to find creeping upon her leg,
the nine-inch form of what might
have once been an insect,
orchid-like and bleeding color;
sipping ichor, incepting her veins
with its own nymph dreams
and infectious spotted fever.

After Sadie crushed it with her Bible,
its remains resembled half a mantis,
half a shattered hard drive.

It belonged to no army we knew
(we knew no armies under our rock)
the rogue run off the beaten path,
its serial, logo, and man.date were to us
like all the world beyond the woods,
mangled, mutant, and indiscernible.



Mack W. Mani is an American poet and author. His work has appeared in various magazines including Neon, NewMyths, and The Pedestal Magazine. His screenplay “You and Me and Dagon Makes Three” won Best Screenplay at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in 2018.
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