Short piece from J. Dorroh

“Reaction to S. Cearley’s Creation”  by John Dorroh


I am swimming through water, no, blood that is thin like water, its salt diluted, unable to nurture the cells, the tissues, the organs.

It is unfair to have such a life tempered with anxious abandon, reeling forever loose

into a cacophony of pity.


Even water sheds tears, and so it was with our crew, that pitiful facsimile of a human being,

his twisted toes long overdue for amputation;

a captain in name only for his attempts at lending support for crew or passengers

failed miserably.


I ate rats once a day, long gray tails that hung out of my mouth like a tough, fleshy rope,

followed by precious water

water without salt, such a rare commodity and it was rumored that urine could be treated

and drunk with only mild effect.


The balance of power is such a non-existent commodity on a craft like this; its sails full

of holes, no attempts to sew,

to block wind that no longer blows hair – too matted from salt of sweat and dead skin,

no bathing chamber, no closet for heavy hearts.


I was beaten by a ragmuffin of a man, spat on, pissed on, kicked like a sack of rotten fruit.

I am sixteen, barely a man,

and wondering if this trip is worth what is happening to me. Mt dear aunt, I think, is being used

below deck for unsavory purposes.


How can a God be present? How can such a test be within his jurisdiction? It is the devil

here on this ship,

the devil for sure who plays his role like a stable genius, who demands to be revered and

adored and worshipped.


I cannot bow down to such an entity and live with myself. I am smitten with the essence

of a cockroach who keeps

me company and eats the dead skin on my exposed ankles. I pray that his offspring

find their way into the mouth of the captain.


I find sleep now, perhaps forever, my weak body purging itself up through the clouds

and with one last surge of energy

I push against the wooden siding and pray that I will pass through whatever gates or curtains

are available. I am spent.

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