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from the July 2015 issue

After Half a Life


After half a life: selva oscura. The dog that I was.

Jesus-mittens nailed onto treetips—the Lord had large hands.

Blooms made of ejaculate. I walked on. Deeper into the woods.



King of the beasts: a bird walking with a broken nose; wings, a comet tail, never worn. Pride after the fall.

Carnal desire: a puffy octopus from the class of unsuitable cephalopods, floating in the sky in place of a moon. Staring at the transwoman I cannot be. Call me Beatrice, she says. I wasn’t sent by any god.

Avarice tamed.

Lechery blocked.

I walked on. Cheshire cat help me: the dog that I was.


Without a figurehead. Upstream in a leaky boat. Encompassed by obsessive brush. In the obscurant woods. Still under the delusion that the darkness had a heart. Me, a Kangal in a cat mask. So easy to expose.



Meanwhile in the birch forest: Every coachman is a poet. Every horse scrambles. Every rocket dreams. Even the foxes are searching for me. Where are you, friend? Who hounded you, who deserted you, who sliced such suspicion into your gaze? Which pickpocket pecked the calm from your fingers, abused you clear out of paradise for a fistful of cheap gold teeth?


Meanwhile in Amsterdam: All the captains are smirking—with the chimneys of their houseboats smoke-signaling good cheer—they page me over, say: If you come now, you’ll live it up a bit. We’ll stroke cards, pray accordion tunes, have a hoot. We’re tying up. The softest rope-toss is all yours—if you come now.

I’m not there.

The dog that I was.


Me, a black-clouded beetle. Crept out of myself. Staring in the face of my ugliness, I couldn’t hate me. My cat-ification was complete. Perhaps—without knowing it—I’d been one all along. I don my ushanka cap. Say good-bye to the bug. I am ready for my homecoming. Which, as I know full well, is never one at all.

"Nach halbem Leben" © Deniz Utlu. By arrangement with the author. Translation  © 2015 by Jake Schneider. All rights reserved.

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