A Cannibal's Suicide
by Dean Kostos
“ ‘You must sit down,’ says Love, ‘and taste my meat.’
So I did sit and eat.” —George Herbert
I stuffed my mouth with bulbs & grubs,
with locusts in wild honey—
husks crunching between my teeth.
Then a sparrow—I wanted to consume
its song. I relished the gnashing, the machinery
of jaw & incisors, transforming flesh
into vibration, filling my emptiness.
Animals foraged from midnight elms,
sniffed at my ankles:
a ferret, a muskrat, a mole.
I skinned & smeared their meat with turmeric,
with herbes de Provence. I roasted
the beasts on a spit, aromas inflaming
my nostrils. Salivating, I savored
each chew. My reputation
bloomed. As if to mock my appetite,
larger animals offered themselves up.
How could I refuse?
I brandished my butcher knife, filleted
them, dressed their flesh for the flame.
How proficient I had become.
Had you seen me, had you smelled
the velvet smoke, you too would have smiled
as I slit a smile across the throat
of my first human.
I had nothing against him—
wanted to taste the last words he moaned
making love. Those delicious
syllables spiraled, mingled with smoke
as I wolfed his flank.
I even thanked him—a prayer.
My admiration lured another,
another … unbeing.
I never asked for names or reasons.
Exiles from the world sacrificed
themselves to my knife, dispensing
with formalities. These outcasts
knew I could translate their suffering
into loin, sirloin, fillet—
in balsamic glaze, in crushed black
peppercorns. As I gnawed a thigh bone,
the smoke, the songs, the spirits returned
in a braiding of shrieks.
Didn’t these misfits know
I had uplifted them into art?
But the smoke twisted into a noose,
crushing my bones. I had to release
the pressure—unleash the yowling fumes.
The way a matador lunges a sword
through a bull’s shoulder blades
into the defiant heart, I knifed
my own. Blood pumped out—splattered
a crimson script. Dressing my meat
for another’s feast, I waited to feed
myself to slavering jaws. Saliva dissolved
my flesh into pages—teeth
ground my despair into words.
|Dean Kostos's books include: Rivering, Last Supper of the Senses, The Sentence That Ends with a Comma, and Celestial Rust. He edited Pomegranate Seeds and Mama’s Boy. His poems have appeared in Boulevard, Chelsea, Cincinnati Review, Southwest Review, and Western Humanities Review. He teaches at The City University of New York.|