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October 22, 2015


Zachary Riddle is a graduate student at Central Michigan University studying creative writing. He works as a graduate assistant at CMU’s writing center, and is the forthcoming editor-in-chief of the international literary magazine Temenos. His work has appeared in Temenos, The Blue Route, and Open Palm Print, among others. He has also co-published a chapbook of poetry, entitled This Labyrinth We Wander, with fellow poet Riley Nisbet and illustrator Amanda Shepard. His dream is to write for television; he won’t quit until this is a reality.

Despair is suffering without meaning. —Viktor Frankl

As the man slit the bull open, black blood
sputtered from its mouth. He raises hide, peers within,
and removes stomach and heart. He laughs and hauls

a naked woman out from the barn, her wrists and ankles
bound with duct tape. She is toothless, saliva dribbling
from her cracked lips. On her chest, tattoos of moths—

behind her ear, a tattoo of the once whole moon.
He tells me, Create. I blindfold her, fit my fingers
between her ribs, touch the tip of thumb

and pointer as I take hold of her emaciated thigh.
I push her into the carcass feet first. She gums my wrist,
the sleeve of my shirt. I sew the beast

shut with needle and wire, watch grey flesh geyser
as the metal passes through, and then out, and then through again.
When she pleads to me, she asks about forgiveness.

I look to the man. This was begged for, he said.
I watch a horsefly land on the bull’s hind leg.
This was begged for, I said.

© Zachary Riddle