Perihelion: An Online Journal of Poetry and Mayhem
The Phoenix Issue, No. 16, Winter 2008
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  H.L. Hix
  Marci Rae Johnson
  Jae Newman
  Geoffrey G. O'Brien
  K. Alma Peterson
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Speaking with the Skull

Of your origins?
            There was no instrument of any shape,
            no figurine. No living things either.
            I was alone & unknown, my account
            that of the natural world—a tree stump
            or stone. Blameless, I came into being
            & have since been. There is nothing more
            than that but the molten core of the Earth.

Of your original owner?
            To the high priest I was his filament,
            a soothsayer’s finery: future & fulcrum.
            I grew tired of his grandstanding. I had
            my fill & gave no warning when Cortez
            came to call.

With regard to the end?
            Abrupt, static & of a neighborhood,
            then tame as a rocking horse. The wind
            see-saws in my sockets. I sink again
            to Mayan soil.

In defense of your powers?
            I would not be if there were no need
            for my presence. Several times I felt
            sorrow, even pity, perhaps. An empty
            barrel given to kindling, a vessel or corral,
            this crystal cage. I grieve as I can & still
            more than the Earth.

And your current state?
            Landlocked in the tongueless expanse
            of middle America. A blunderbuss, withered;
            a branchless elm. Possessed, never loved
            & on parade as a visionary paperweight.
            I am what the living seeks & can do nothing
            but foment their tardy fates.