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By: Blake Butler

Blood violence. Scrying violence. Schools doors’ locked door to door. Homes surrounded with a netting. Pastries rolled up with the asp. Tomahawks in hands of children come down on dolls and friends, come down on ants, come down on me. Fathers kill their fathers and their sons. Sons kill their friends. Wives kill their husbands and their doctors. They kill the babies in their guts. War violence in the home. Sky violence writing itself white into the cover of the hour with the screens’ electrifying prismlight. What would have been watched in place of doing is become doing. Runes are written on the heads. Lawns are cut in slurs or glyph stakes, calling for the meteor or blank invasion. A burning planted somewhere in every city near the homes. The wash of the bathwater on the drowned self. The pills. The pills to erupt the cells out of the body. The naked turned to breadloaves. The football hero with the Luger to his temple on the fifty-yard line. The banker handing back a withdrawal in the form of a sheet of his own skin. Gas station attendants robbing the customers of their consciousness. Of blood. The dogs walking the dogs. “What is happening in America? The homeland commissioner is up in arms. We must act now. This is our home.” The black rabbit in the east sky rises and eats a column of dust onto the air. Troops deployed in precaution of 40_Stories_Final.indd 68 6/18/12 5:38 PM The Beginning of the Summation of Our Dead 69 the nature of the coming people stab each other in the chests. Intestine dinners. Ageless, graceless. The face of God: torn in strips off of a billboard and used to wrap the dead. This is an art project, someone stutters, and the teeth fall out of their mouth onto the ground and are eaten by the starving some days later. Enamel over all. Video game machines going blank. Wires doing blank. Email reading these same words in every head. A package is delivered to the homeland commissioner and he opens it on live TV, knowing it will explode. The dogs’ names are changed to Darrel. The children’s names are changed to Darrel. The nation’s name is changed to Darrel. Michael Jackson’s name is changed to Darrel. Human instances of Darrel are made piggish, crucified inside the streets as nonbelievers. The name of Darrel in the mass of names is something else. The days. The occasionally clean are surrounded by their own flesh and bone. No metaphor left behind. No building not written whitely with the curse word over the crush of any city now called Darrel. Order again is demanded. Vegetable delivery is mandated by the state to arrive each evening in a long white limousine. This we believe in, which makes us calmer. It does not happen. Another 340,000 die. Another 417,550. Another 589,000. The rising numbers count themselves in blue of pigs blood in cursive on the sky below the blank where there might have been a moon once, and still might be, though we can’t remember where to look. The instance of the number is attacked by Air Force bombers to obliterate as smoke. The smoke maintains the will of concrete underneath the clusterbomb. The fallout rains us birds. We eat them. The flesh of the bird delivers word. A mechanic kills a man who’s come to have his wheel replaced; he kills using the machine of his daily labor; another day he might have simply changed the wheel. Someone is counting on the fingers of those who pass him in the street. Something underneath the street puts the sound in cats’ mouths and the houses rub where none of them touch. Someone with a hammer appears in one in houses in one evening, mimicking at once a series of different people in one body, tolling the present number of the murdered bodies higher. There is no going backward. The faster we die we all will die. Sickness is not a shaking but a way of looking across a breakfast table or giving thanks. Anywhere this does not happen yet, the air remains. Turnips in fields turn up with dried blood centers. The trees bow down to kiss the ground. 700,010 dead. 880,789 dead. Telephones. Locks sold from the hardware station come without a key. Each four killed make eight kill eight more and then kill themselves or kill another set of eight, bodies branching off of each eight killed kill at least sixteen or toward twenty-four, each body desisted initiates a system in the spool of those surrounding by physical creation or by name, or by walking past the wrong place in the right street in an hour of the wake or having heard; not by plague or viral idea or passion or brutal ministry or campaign, but by something they’ve not named but has a name, and in the unnaming of the so named the day goes on and renders shorter while the skin flies at the light above in reams of hiss and collects in lathered wreaths around a something unseen around a something. The remaining bodies of their living go on tasting each other’s body in their mouth in the bite of the chew of the grand air and the cerebral matter of waking up and laying to bed. The colors of us giving up only one color, of little sex. The cars turning themselves on. A day to come of old form. Crystal visions. Winking paper. So ends the beginning of our summation of the dead.

Feb. 14, 2017, 2:05 p.m. 0 Report Embed 1
To be continued... New chapter Every Wednesday.

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