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Quaid

This selection is paired with “Dread” by Clive Barker. Get NonBinary Review #20 at Zoetic Press.


In the absence of God,
there you are.
 
Crouched on your bar stool,
brandy in one hand,
 
Bentham in the other,
haloed by your own smoke.
 
Eyes so pale
they conjure milk,
 
cold and sustaining.
Train them on me.
 
To everyone else,
I am scarce of scariness.
 
Only you see its slight vibration
undermining the foundation.
 
Take me to Pilgrim Street
and lock me inside
 
that stifling room,
plain and holy as your face.
 
Lay out my father’s edicts
and my mother’s denials.
 
Lay out the friends’ rejections
and the lovers’ ridicule.
 
Lay out my husband’s mistresses
and my children’s future therapists.
 
Lay out what my boss stole from me
while I sat – like this – in silence.
 
Lay out the stinking fish
of my own ego,
 
 
its fragile scales gleaming
now good enough, now assuredly worthless.
 
I won’t waste time in avoidance,
raring to wrap my tongue
 
around that fetid meat,
longing to lap at the maggots.
 
Take my fervid hand,
and let me touch the beast.
 
Only in the presence of dread
is there salvation.

Morrow Dowdle’s publication credits include River and South Review, Dandelion Review, and Poetry South. She was a Pushcart Prize nominee in 2018, and writes graphic novels, most recently with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.