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The Coal of St. Lawrence, by Debra Di Blasi

The martyrdom story of Saint Lawrence (who gave away the Church’s riches to the poor) may have originated from a transcription mistake on the wall at his burial site, where the letter ‘p’ was accidentally omitted from passus est. Thus, He suffered became assus est: He was roasted.

 

Fire rained that night we sat under the Perseids watching comet dust spit fire on a planet that cannot speak its name. Yet there were burning bushes. We kissed.

How’s it possible it’s grown so late?

A hemorrhage of sunup spills on deserts where prairie grasses flourished before wheat took them alive. Before aquifers irrigating wheat were sucked dry. Before now’s a bowl of Kansas dust. A toothless jawbone still moving.

Shall I remain hostage to my vanity and greed?

Does anyone use the word shall anymore?

Darling, shall I give a shit?

My self-same selfish nature’s the same as a seagull pecking the eyes out of his shrieking winged kin.

At lunch alongside a beach, there’re strangers who toss food scraps to seagulls to keep them at bay. Idiots.

Shhh!

Don’t worry. They won’t imagine it’s them.

Some things we can count on. Like shooting stars that are neither shooting nor stars but rather detritus descending from a comet sailing past as if we’re nothing.

We’re nothing.

Yet, leave it to a guy roasting on a gridiron to make it something: “I’m well done on this side. Turn me over!”

Good one, Larry!

Find me who’s a broken grain of sand on this beach that’s just what’s seen when the tide’s low, quivering lip of ocean floors tumbled down to powder, and the waves a rhythm of weeping in our anthropocentric fables.

No coals, no gridiron, no tears aflame under shrubs.

What did we do, really, when the stars that were not stars fell over Monsaraz?

We kissed. We leaned on the hood of a car and feigned hope. Pretended youth and a permanence unimaginable as the inexorable swing of Perseus’s sword while his sons burned under bushes whence God’s voice was the crackle of static on a ham radio searching for strangers in the middle of each insomnia. Someone to call friend with which to conspire and speculate from a pool of knowledge the size of an apostle’s spoon.

We know the silver weight of what we know’s less than a spoonful of seasalt stirred into a chipped cup.

Waves crash on boulders and the air’s a fishy salty mist.
Somewhere always near, whales and dolphins wash up dead.

Here long enough on this sunny beach, we marinate, yet to be grilled over open flames.

These longer hotter seasons of fire. The stench of a koala bear’s burnt face.

We’re all martyred by belief: our feebleness: cowardice in the face of how easy it’d be seriously to bring back species from the brink if only the patron saint of cooks intervened.

Eight billion humans belching and farting.

Pardon me.

Darkest night, cloudless, protected from illumination by governing bodies: no lamps or streetlights or headlights, no Holy See with gold coins up his sleeve, no blind need for saints because kindness, servant to all, waited on-hand. Silver tray polished, gloves bleached white as coral.

What’s the opposite of coal inside a stocking hung on a fireplace? What’s hell? What’s and who’s that we fear and loathe? Given one shot at dying, who’ll we take with us?

Standing on that dirt road with the car hood still ticking as it cooled, we found our once guileless nature. Horny adolescents ignoring yesterday’s grievance and tomorrow’s consequence.

There will always be too many babies until there are none.

At this perihelion, the sky burns too. Coals fall burning.

Mean is also a noun.

We kissed.

 

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Debra Di Blasi is an award-winning multi-genre, multimedia writer, and visual artist. She is the author of Selling the Farm, Drought & Say What You Like; Prayers of an Accidental Nature; The Jirí Chronicles & Other Fictions; TODAY IS THE DAY THAT WILL MATTER: An Oral History of the New America: #AlternativeFictions; What the Body Requires; Ugly Town: The Movie: A Novel; and Skin of The Sun: New Writing. Her fiction has also been published in leading anthologies of innovative writing, and in prominent journals and reviews, including Boulevard, The Collagist, The Iowa Review, New Letters, Triquarterly, and Wigleaf.

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