Dissections logo scissors body by Deena Warner


Dissections logo pterodactyl by Deena Warner





Artwork: The Swimming Hole by Will Jacques
Artwork: The Swimming Hole by Will Jacques

Bubonic Litany
Sara Tantlinger


Almost tender at first,
freckle-sized spots
from me to you
little love bites
as fleas cascade
down like dying eyelashes

make a wish, darling.

They call me pandemic
and blame the heavens,
riot against clouds
accuse the very air hovering
around, but my miasma
digs deeper into the dirt
of filthy, human secrets.

I sing you a plaguing love song
as masked men arrive, a covenant
of fake doctors with ill intent,
stuffing aromatic rose petals, juniper,
lemon, mint, spices inside their beaks,
all hiding from my putrid breath
as their canes poke your boiling skin
saying, let me in.

I am bubonic on your tongue,
dance with me beneath melting, gray skies
as you swell up, apple-sized raindrops
bulge beneath your flesh,
longing to burst, ooze pus and blood,
contaminate those pecking beaks
before your flesh darkly rots, falls off,
and this is me trying to find a way inside you.

Fever and crimson vomit,
do you hear the rats, sweet little pathogens,
scurrying after you?
Harbor me in your lungs
(two to seven days, then you’re mine)
every haggard breath is my affection
contaminating mortality,
are the boils on your groin
too much love?
Just trying to dig in deep
with parasitic hands and teeth,
let me in.

Each patch of purple skin
glimmers wetly on your body,
slick bruises from my grip
aching and clinging for you to just
let me in.

Come with me
before you are left behind,
discarded to deal with the fervor
of what I leave in my wake,
away from the religious fanatics
who will bloom dandelion-quick
and blame the living
for the dead,
cut and burn each other.

Let me love you,
carry you away in the embrace
of millions of others
because everyone is a leper in the end,
and the only plague vaccine
is to give in.

I am Black Death
and I’d say once again to let me in,
but here I am
beneath your heart’s withered shadows,
within your marrow’s rust
clutching your carcass
in pestilence's last embrace.


I Bleed Earth
Sara Tantlinger

My blood clotted
with mud-clumps
as I breathe in dust
exhale atmosphere
your recycled particles,
just permeation disguised
within smiling foliage
quivering limbs
sliding roots lower
into mud’s unrelenting slurp
where you’ll never find
what’s lost beneath
the slivered thorns
I hide deep inside
globules of forgotten earth,
hemorrhaging out
poisoned compost.


Carmine Castles
Sara Tantlinger

I paint carmine castles in the sky with my fingertips
and watch clouds drift over flags on towers, sailing
along with the wind, saluting to an invisible queen.

The sun claims witness to our dishonest existence
like hearts burned into tiny grains of sand waiting
to liquefy. The blue above us is an unknown expanse
of ocean, threatening to asphyxiate our misted dreams.

The walls around our imagination have fallen on top
of you, crushed your bones into the powder I wear.
Our fortress will collapse when the demons in the pale
Heavens stomp madly over the pain I brought to you.

I paint castles in the sky with your sugared blood under
my nails, watching the walls drip and boil from the heat
today brings, and I wonder if you still dream in clouds.

Dissections logo pterodactyl by Deena Warner
Website maintained by Michelle Bernard - Contact michelle.bernard64@gmail.com - last updated March 8, 2018