There’s ash, destruction and dust,
the colour of red ochre coating
everything and everyone —
The crumbling brownstones, the
weeds and thornbushes, the rocks
and us pilgrims, as we make our
way to Benny’s. The serpentine path
breaks in places, and we have to
wade through muddy water and
climb cliff faces. Benny’s in the trade,
Mark says, as he carries goods in
a sack that we plan on trading
for a meal. I despise it all, but
survival coats the heart pitch-black
and I need to do things I’m not
proud of. The elite with resources
in their towns and cities, eat
at Benny’s, not sojourners and
tramps like us. We reach
the place, tumbledown but
better looking than anything I’ve seen
in the wasteland. I look up at the sky,
the red moon and the dying sun
juxtaposed like images of violence
and surrender, the things that got us
here, the dust sweeps into the main hall.
I pray for my soul, and sit at a rickety table.
The proprietor arrives with his beard
and red suit, and I snatch pieces of
conversation from the nearby tables.
Philosophers speaking about the fallout.
How did these softies survive this long?
I wonder and then see the train of slaves —
The trade, the craft, the means to a life,
whatever you call it, there’s no justifying it.
Mark points, says, We’ll have the fat
man, whose eyes protrude when he sees
the finger. He squirms and shivers. Which
Part? Benny asks, thigh, belly, head,
and Mark says, I reckon
we’ve got enough scraps for the full man.
Three-fourths, Benny says, and asks us how
we’ll like him. Well done, I say, very well done,
thank you, before Mark can
utter a word, and gag.
This is a sister poem to the one I wrote for dVerse. You’ll find that one here. I set both in dystopian futures.