Four Poems
by Robert Beveridge, 3.24am July 10th 2021

Finishing School

"Good bones", the old janitor
always said of the mansion
on the hill, but Tony never saw
anything but lines of acetate
that raced from the road
to the basement windows,
the crows he described to me
atop the widows walk, copper
gone to teal even though
the nearest salt was a hundred
leagues away. Tony had plans
for that skeleton, though, he
said, by candlelight, drunk
in a basement library carrel,
surrounded by books no one
remembered were there. With
your help, ole bean, I can turn
that moldy mess into something
magnificent
. So there I was
the next night, without a CDL
but still behind the wheel
of a dump truck, Tony shotgun
with the biggest blowtorch
I'd ever seen, and how he loaded
all those fifty-five gallon drums
in the dumper I didn't bother to ask.
He chanted the whole way there,
some language I didn't know,
then poured all that liquid
into patterns only he could see.
It was weird how no one was around,
no one passed on the road, after all
you wouldn't have been able to miss
a big-ass dump truck with its lights on
so we could see what the hell we were
up to. But that's the way it was, for hours,
and by the darkest end of night,
he turned the spigot on that flamethrower,
chanting all the while, and held the end
for me to flick a lighter as he chanted

louder and louder, till the very last
syllable and the flame tipped
to the ground and there they were,
those lines, but also angles,
spirals, loops, geometry I'd
never seen before, and a wordless
howl that lived inside
the fire, that was the fire.
My eyes crawled up
to the widow's walk
and I have no idea
how Tony had gotten
up there, nor how
how had grown
so many mouths.

Maltodextrin

There’s that factory a couple blocks outside downtown, where it’s still barren, before the greenery of the suburbs. Out by the hospital. No one ever knew what got made there. Not sure anyone ever thought to ask. After the company moved on, teens turned it into a makeout spot. Dark lot, easy ingress. Problem was they all got an itch. Stopped going there to get laid, started going just to sit, stare, breathe. Got so they thought about moving the school, since all the kids were in the same place anyway. But the day council was ready to vote, sheriff went out, big gas mask and all, and they were gone, the lot of ‘em. Cars still in their spaces, butt prints on the floor, otherwise empty. Still not a single person here between 19 and 22. Ever notice?

New Ham

after you’ve pulled the corrugated sheet from the hill
after you’ve dug around the pit with a flat head shovel
after you’ve pulled out the package with the chicken wire handle
after you’ve opened the cage and shifted the burlap aside
after you’ve tap tap tapped with the back of the knife on the salt crust
after you’ve shifted the banana and pounded cassava leaf from the hip
after you’ve found the place where the ball meets the socket with the blade
after you’ve slipped under the patella and separated the lower leg
after you’ve been handed the trencher and loaded up the main course
after you’ve brought it over to the table and the feast has commenced


only then is it time to call Rayanne at the North Street Deli
and let her know that you’ve got about a hundred thirty pounds
of assorted deli meat about to cool you’ll drop by at dawn

POLICE BLOTTER, WEEK OF APRIL 31ST

- Two drunk teenagers broke a store window on North Main Street at 1:30 Saturday morning when,
they said, they saw a cat giving them the finger behind it. The store owner claims the cat hails from a
country where that gesture is performed with two fingers.


- Alfred Nettlebarn of Nettlebarn Construction reports three I beams were pilfered from his current
building site.


- Dan Malin and two of his children are in the Bear Creek Medical Center after eating soup they made
with carrots they harvested from the forest. Dan's wife, Melinda, would like to remind her fellow
townsfolk not to eat forest food.


- The surveyors have determined that the Marshall's property is touched neither by the spatial rift near its northeast corner nor the squid infestation to the west. As a result, they have been found legally
blameless for either.


- Two more high schoolers have slipped into comatose meditation at the abandoned chemical factory north of town.


- A fender bender at the corner of Crest and Buer was resolved amicably when both parties agreed the fault rested with a cat who dashed across the intersection and gave them the finger.