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A.J. Grant

I look like I am still alive. But Mother knows the deathmask is on my face as well.

Dead Brother Speaks:

My throat opens. The tunnel made flesh. I make myself a smoke body and send my smoke body into the tunnel. I sing into the black. I sing Dead Sister back to me. Sing a strawberry into my belly. Into the bugs’ mouths. They choke on strawberry seeds. And a bird cracks off a branch. A bird flies right through me. The branch grows from a crack in the wall. The branch grows from Dead Sister’s mouth into mine. The walls crumble. It is frightening to watch so much fall. To see the blackness that remains when the blackness has gone. To watch a bloodflower grow in the blackness. To stack dead bug on top of dead bug. My prayer is a sine wave. Square wave. Saw wave that cuts the bugs in half. My wave bends the river. The tunnel.

My wave cuts across the wake.

Dead Brother Speaks:

I reach into the walls and put my hands on piano keys. I see Dead Sister in the piano dancing on the strings while the hammers go. I play a song called Dead Sister 12-Bar Blues. She tries to skip over the hammers but I play too fast. She can’t skip them all she gets mashed between the hammers and the string. Holes punched. She looks like a player piano roll and when she spins through the piano notes squirt from her mouth. In the background I hear Mother sing high lonesome over the chords. She sings the notes like they are Dead Sister’s name. She sings the notes and the song burns into her throat. Burns a hole in her throat. And Dead Sister emerges wearing her deathmask and hooks herself to a piano wire. And Mother cries. And I emerge wearing my blood body. I hook myself to a piano wire. I look like I am still alive. But Mother knows the deathmask is on my face as well. And Mother cries. I try to take my hands away from the keys. I try to pull Dead Sister away from the hammers. I try to put my hand on my throat. I try to sing a new song. I try to blur out the old notes. The old song. But the old notes are the clearest thing in the tunnels.

Their sounds ring and ring.

A.T. Grant lives in Minneapolis. He makes songs as New South Bear. You can hear songs here: newsouthbear.bandcamp.com. He wants to play music or read poems in your house (or garage or almost anywhere else). His writing has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Horse Less Review, Sixth Finch, inter|rupture, La Petite Zine, and several other journals.