Glenn Shaheen 

                                        Jeanne Bessette

                                        Jeanne Bessette



The holy houses rubble the hallowed

institutes excavated and the children

oh the children left to wander streets

in search of vittles needles little salvations

oh thy corruptible masses watch what 

fragility can be exploited on 

watch the bodies dismembered in

thrilling ways watch the eyeball as

it is pulled slowly towards the splinter

we want the victims saved and yet

we'd feel cheated if some weren't

eviscerated in the condition of our

present malaise oh thy hearts of hunger

bowls of blood death thy cathedral

fester thy priest and the hymns 

harmonious and lush filling every

crevice every skull's cavity who is

there now to protect us protect me

you and hate spilling from the cracks

thy imbroglio of fettered carols thy

river of doll heads thy risk free trial

thy endless minutiae amidst thy

rising water thy deferral thy pocket

change thy know what's best thy

portfolio thy brained by a cross thy

drownage thy bloodstain thy exposed

bone thy somebody's got to do it

thy blanket of sewn eyelids thy

longpig thy feast above the famined

thy rock thy brainspill thy heart attack

thy inheritance thy blame thy sauteed

liver thy pike by gum by golly thy shiv

thy flayed form thy guts thy bone thy skin



The neighbors’ band practicing,

drums askew, sticks clicking through 


the air—covers of songs from


the nineties the radio would grind out while friends

and I drove from state to state, the landscape unreeling, 

a fine ground meat being wound out 


by a butcher. We didn’t think of futures, 

I mean in the plural, we thought 


of fame and its dimensions, the meats 

we could enjoy and not even have to pay for ourselves, 

agents of luxury lining up for platitudes 

and samples—but the band breaks 


a second, the silence an 

exclamation point, and we all get more uncomfortable when silences 


wash and twist our heads, clothes 


in the sink, the noise the neighbors have 


blessed us with, sounds of disorder 

and pickups too close to the strings—


as a child my mother vacuuming the hall made me lull 

to sleep, the comfort that another person was close by— 


a community can be 


a blanket, can sometimes be laden 

with disease, we know, but hold it close 

to our chest— 


the night is a juggernaut of uncertain knives and silences—


can the band start a new song, replay the old one? We’re willing to applaud, 

to be breathless is not pleasant, we will 

hold our responses—I’m beginning 


to sweat though it’s cold in our house by the 


standards we’re used to, our fridge filled 

with half eaten desserts,


bones in the compost bin, notes and rhythm unfurling 


from the walls like the wings of a bat.


Glenn Shaheenis the author of the poetry collections Predatory (U of Pitt Press, 2011), and Energy Corridor (U of Pitt Press, 2016); the flash fiction chapbook Unchecked Savagery (Ricochet Editions, 2013); and the flash fiction collection Carnivalia (Gold Wake, 2018).