Sparagmos

—Dionysian rite; an act of rending, mangling

We’re so good at tearing apart      voided

checks, love letters, the charred carrion

of critters trapped in a savannah fire       

good gamey god      cooking blew up

our bare-bones brains         all life depends

on a doom-eager star          something eating

something else          we gave ourselves

dominion over the makeshift circus

of myth          now we can story as we see fit     

Dionysus had his women divide by hand          

his proud cousin Pentheus whose own mom

rallied the frenzied throng             we’ll do

anything to come together      at communion

a cracked tablet of unleavened bread       I no longer

partake of the dream           Christ’s body

in my hands              but I wish I did        

a few years back a referee in Brazil

was stoned, decapitated, and quartered

because of a bad call            he also opened

a player’s throat with a razor-blade

we’re expert bread-breakers          listen

the disembodied head of an Orphic goat

sings in the dreamy trees tonight             the dead

center of its voice cannot hold       the water

buffalo in Apocalypse Now was really        hacked

up       remember how it buckled

under the long blades         butter-soft

under the weight     green going

from its watery eyes            I’m looking

to put this all back together            maybe

when we awoke the world was whole    

what perfect teeth, opposable thumbs    

we needed the kingdom to fit

in our mouths           a great fire climbed

the sky and we came           starving


Gregory Emilio’s poetry and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Best
New Poets, Crab Orchard Review, F(r)iction, Midwestern Gothic, Nashville
Review, Permafrost, Spoon River Poetry Review, The Poet’s Billow, The
Southeast Review,
and Valparaiso Poetry Review. He’s the Nonfiction Editor
at New South, and a PhD candidate in English at Georgia State University in
Atlanta.