The Blood of the Beast

by Charlie Bowden | January 21, 2024

A crude drawing of God
lies in your lap,
the limp hand of a father
cut in half by a fold
and hastily scribbled over.

Those brutish lines
are shadows on my wall,
chanting Gregorian hymns
until their thousand shadowed heads
erupt with horns.

Your towering tongue
speaks viscous words,
confessing a tonic
of blackened oil
I’ll never swallow.

I haven’t decided
how I’ll remember you yet.
You’re an old custom,
part of the furniture,
invisible, uninsured, unrepentant.

The water’s holy, you insist
as it sputters in your throat,
and then that word,
God, its grim bloat—
your butter just won’t melt.

Words by Charlie Bowden. Art by Lily Middleton-Mansell.