Hunter-Gatherers and the Skin of the Eighty-Eight Drums

We were new here, and none of us could farm worth a shit.  
All day long we scratched at the dirt with these ridiculous iron
spears, the marks we made looking to us like a scripted babel
that could never be spoken. We dreamed about spaceships,

and grassy plains made of nothing but light. Old women sang
in the tallest of the trees and they knew exactly how to jump.  
We chanted poems to the gods of idle brunches, loudly. This
was a landscape transformed into a silence born of a tireless

mumbling, or curses, yes, I think it was a curse. Those scars, 
I mean, please. In visions we are shown how a piano is really
an ancient catacomb shaped from the skin of the eighty-eight 
drums, and to sit with purpose, just once, on that little black 

stool, meant you were one step closer to the code. But us,
we were trapped here in a sack stuffed with too many teeth, 
another movement, irredeemably away, cousin to the empty 
and gone. We couldn’t climb, hell, couldn’t jump if we could, 

under was an impossibility and all the water fenced off into
circles or fouled. The sky made no mention of source. Little
wonder. Stars in a half-assed broth. What to hold to, what 
to heave. Molting. It would be our way of life until it wasn’t.  

Jeffrey Little | Life, or, Those Other Movies Never Made
Contents | Mudlark No. 77 (2024)