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Mammon’s Cave

May 25, 2016


Janna Layton is a Bay Area native who is still managing to reside in San Francisco (for the moment). Her poetry and fiction have been published or are upcoming in various literary journals, including Jersey Devil, Goblin Fruit, Mythic Delirium, Lakeside Circus, and Star*Line. She blogs at and her Twitter handle is @jkbartleby.

Truly, visitor, I blush
that this is how you see me first.
You must have been expecting more,
something more like my estate on Earth.
And were we there, I would show you all:
the fountain carved from the largest diamond,
cleaned of slaves’ blood and filled with soda;
the room with walls embossed with pearls
from an ocean purchased for that purpose;
the floors of marble mined
from an ancient mountain (now a pit).
I would show you the children,
the twelve most beautiful children in the world
which I found and had killed and cast in plaster
to make lively statues of solid gold.
I would show you the servants whose severed faces
have been replaced with grinning masks —
they would serve you with ivory spoons used only once.

But instead you have met me here,
and I prefer to live simply when at home.
Here is my clay jug of water;
here is my small bed and blanket.
Beside the fire I read or draw in charcoal
while thinking of distant hills.
But here — look at the mantel
and see my indulgence:
this smooth, gleaming shell with eternal spiral
and houndstooth pattern of bone and mahogany.
In life it would have held a poisonous snail.

© Janna Layton

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