your last breath rattled from houston to highway twelve
and you never did see
the buttes and white mesas, mouthless gods
with arched backs, the earth a brash red
as though punctured, irritated, dry and rasping;
temple spires piercing tropospheric skin
one final time.
the glint of your knife echoed the gleam of your teeth,
your smile as wide as my father’s scowl, his eyes
yellow and searching his Busch for pieces of you; denim or leather,
club patches, frayed tires, and take his fill,
bloat his liver to bursting—
maybe once the bile and bitter acids are expelled, you will spill out
and reform; dull the ache inflamed, just shy of septic,
chasing the edges of your ghost.
i never knew if your body twisted, collided with the carpet or the street,
if your blood ran like muddied clay, if your fingers curled
against someone, or empty space
while the bullet made your body like bauxite,
the ore gone dark, each hole filling
with remembered whispers, found and overturned
from bassinet to pallor mortis.
my chest burns with the thought of pilgrimage;
i dreamt not of you, but of the flat expanse before cliffs
that tower over your resting place,
that mighty exhalation of soil and seed,
born of necrosis, voiceless as you—
but still i believe i will hear you, carried on mountain air,
not wet or howling, hunched or gasping,
but rising from each hidden crevice,
crumbling stone, chipped church paint
to form a prayer on the water, testament on stone
where my eyes read your name.
here i will plunge shaky arms through the thick of your plot
break the surface of hot sediment
and rusted shell casings
to say i may have never known you but i know you’ve never left.
J.M. Moss (they/them) is a queer writer of color and freelance artist from south central Texas. They enjoy monsters, space, and the quiet horror of the unknown.