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They Found the Claw and Hung from It Chimes
Dawn of the Sixth Epoch

The Aztec baby came in on the back of the wolf. The saddle was small and made of bone. The knife in the baby’s hand was crooked, made of flint. The Pleiades, like a burn spot in the night, tore up the congregation with the promise of a new epoch. It was not yet noon, and the failed collegiate athletes lolled around the Moroccan sofas, arranged in obtuse geometric patterns in the atrium. The famous designer of bars loomed over his unfinished masterpiece, barking at the soiled cement pourer and the Florentine carpenter who wore a quetzal-colored apron. The bar would be named The Sibelius, the stools bearing, in fine tin, the names of honorable retirees of the Helsinki Conservatory. Osborne’s unique library of obscure poetics glowed under the hundred well-lit candles, though the librarian continued to curse at the uncooperative espresso machine, and the rain drummed the tarpaulin sadly, both of which disturbed the peace, seemingly, like the binding of the Book of Cartouche, beyond repair. People, deep in their sleeps, all at once, like a variety of unusual stringed instruments, began to purr.

View with Milk

It was milk, milk washing over us for hours. The river had overflowed, the banks stagnant, sticking to the bones and skins like a feral sauce. I was snorkeling, and “looking for goodness” according to Tom, “looking for the best scraps ’o fish!” And I had found some, and we’d fired them up in the big pot by the stove, a fresh char under it, to give it life. “Let me take a look at you,” remarked Twig, grabbing my triceps and spinning me around for the ugliness of it. The milk continued to pour down out of the sound cloud. It grew dark, and our umbrellas, weighty with the bacterial fruit, began to bend and fold. Still there were young ones, running around with empty bottles, filling them for dying pups on the beach.


The lion came out of the forest and looked back at where he had been. All around was night. The stars seemed filled with unusual colors. The spot he’d just left was glowing with fruit! Mice lined the path he walked, and as he came to the river, wild cranes looped overhead, as if dazed. There was something gleaming, a chunk of hard cola, in the back of his brain; sometimes it burned “yes,” other times “no,” depending on where things stood. Tonight the girl came down from the sky and ran her fingers through his mane. A flock of pigeons threw its tentacles around the scene; though they were scintillant tentacles. Slightly shiny, with softly shiny depths. The lion pushed some into his mouth. 

James Grinwis has work published in 20x20, Black Warrior Review, and New American Writing. He is a founding editor of Bateau Press and lives in Florence, Massachusetts.