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Tuesday, April 25, 2017


by Elizabeth Johnston

Image source: DonkeyHotey

“[He] is being raked over the coals in the press right now. People are trying to destroy him”

“We will not be staked this time.” 

Myth smokes with the corpses we’ve inherited,
simpering seventy-times-seven girls:
Gretel, escaping the oven to wrap arms around her dead-beat Dad.
Persephone in a singed bikini boarding the bus for Spring Break.
Corn-woman begging for the stake so bellies might be fed.

We are the granddaughters of the witches you burned
and our tongues won’t, anymore,
wrap around the lie:
            Once, Long Ago, Far Away

Like fugitives of Pompeii
we’ve borne the blistering surge,
been arrested mid-joy, fixed
to the earth for centuries, lain airless,
buried under soot, cocooned
our voices like fingers
cast in their clawing.

But go ahead, storytellers.  Rewrite.

Return to the scene shouldering your excuses like shovels,
dismissive as a pickaxe.
Fill the void with your plaster white,
your sight-seer-safe.
Stake your claim. Charge your fees.

There’s profit in bigotry, big money in violence.

Stand over the volcano’s mouth piece,
sermonize, ejaculate,
make your pithy sacrifice.

Never mind the ghosts
who sneak up from behind,
palms facing forward.

Elizabeth Johnston teaches writing, literature, and gender studies in Rochester, NY. A past contributor at TheNewVerse.News, her most recent work appears in The Atlantic, Feminist Formations, and The Boiler.