1,196 Readings


You can hear the dead I made
crowded nearly still in the street outside.

I know you can.

And I know how much it reminds you
of the soft wrestling of those life jackets
we saw floating on the lake without bodies.

I can hear them too.

I made them, so I know
they will wait endlessly.

I’ve been trying to write down this escape plan for us.
It’s so well formed in my head.

And I’ve been trying to make you a care package
of rations I have left from the looting.

The important things I’ve taken
from stores and others’ bodies.

I’ve filled a box with Band-Aids, bottled water,
a Campbell’s Chicken and Stars.

I know you’re skeptical.

No one for the mail in a week.
Power cut Friday.

But my body still hoards the smell of your skin
before saliva in its mouth as it breathes.

So I need to try and write this.

Thursday: I’ll have the sniper rifle ready
on top of the bank across from your apartment.

You’ll have to run as fast as you can.

I’ll try to draw the dead I made
away from you with human noise,
as much as I can make.

I know they’ll be listening.

This’ll give you time. I hope.

God, I’m trying.

Remember, if they grab you, keep low,
I’ll try to take their heads if you keep low.

And what is filling your chest as you read this
is a by-product of the guilt inside you,

the guilt that blames yourself for the failure of my body,
my mistaken body that is not infallible hero,

but an untrained, barricaded, secluded body,
a body just without aim in your distance.

And what I want you to know,
what I need you to know,

is that your guilt is more senseless than the dead
I hear now crushing themselves against the door.

It’s the senselessness that’s terrifying.

If you read this you’ll understand.
If you get this package you’ll understand.

God knows you’re more a survivor than me.

You calmed me when I thought the wild horses
in Medora would trample us on our air mattress,

when I flinched at the wounded bleating of animal
that woke us in the dark of Itasca.

There is a grizzling of throats in the hall,
the clawing of shredded hands at the door.

There is a distance of shouts from the window.
A defacement of that distance, those shouts.

Human sounds, just there, alive, somewhere,

above the dead I made at the door,
above what might be birds

tearing through the down of their own bellies.

You will survive me.

You will survive me, I know.

Weight crush splinters frame.
The heavy, human rust of their breath.

I love you. Please,
don’t make me look at their mouths.

Posted 08/12/11
This poem includes at least three types of guilt and the walking dead. It is from my book I AM NOT A PIONEER, out now from H_NGM_N Books. More info here: http://www.h-ngm-n.com/not-pioneer/
Books by Adam Fell
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