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Myth of the Mud God

April 22, 2016


Michael VanCalbergh is an instructor at Rutgers-Newark and in the REaCH program. When not teaching he spends most of his time convincing his daughter that Iron Man also eats his vegetables. His work has appeared in various journals including Per Contra, Naugatuck River Review, and The Collagist.
Every morning I wake up heavier,
my throat filled with dirt. What I can’t hack up
wash down with coffee and cough syrup.
I try to rinse the smell of wet cigarettes
from my body as I pick out
the stones and animals that get caught inside
my chest. When I leave, the world is the same:
The Others walk by, skirts lighting the way,
barely pausing to look beyond the inside
of their eyes. I recognize some, like Grease and Ash,
who ignore me, as I ignore them.
It’s easier to look away than stare
at faces worn like mine. Then I work,
replace the ground dried by the sun with large
pieces of my cheek and the new jobs always
with my back. I yell, as my wounds grow new,
to no-one, constantly. It goes slowly.
Most nights, I drink and bury my head long
enough to want to go home. Every day
I’m less surprised by this life
and consider, for a moment, the tub.
How long would it take to dig through
my stomach, drag as much intestine
as my hands can hold and cram them down my throat
until I found purpose?
© Michael VanCalbergh