Body as Husk, Being as Disease

by Sean William Dever

mornings mist 
trudging through
the enclave of shells
roach-like creatures
feelers, antennae, 
multi-legged monsters roam
down Boylston
off to work at big-money marketing firms
grab a bite of overpriced happiness
or to buy the newest Nespresso 

i found this 
molted mass 
new/used costume
discarded, no longer in use

this husk, not my own
not as man or monster
me as disease embodied
disease as soft form
eager to breathe
however caustic air 
polluted atmosphere 
keeps this shell wretched over

once i escaped the container
large metal cylinders 
where me and those alike 
are tossed 
when born without exoskeleton 
relocated outside of medical wards
living to wait
and wait to be drained 
of our sweet lifeblood
inadequate, unable to bathe in the outside air
our bodies, sacks
means of survival for the roaches

i nestled inside this shell
four tentacles on my upper-half, two on the lower
slid my ballooning form inside
this found, lucrative means of hiding

i wade across the Public Garden
sift through the trash
discarded wrappers, containers
eat the abandoned gelatin quick

they approach 
i coil my tentacles back inside
stiff-bodied soft mass
nod and salute my “fellow breed”
but they sniff 
and sour their noses
aware of my charade
one thrusts their pincer-like arm
into a space between this home

blood trails behind me
sweet, sugary, glowing florescent yellow
suckle me, a flower blooming, bursting

the cracks in my tentacles seep, deflate
as i hurry this husk away
lead them down the street
until I am backed against an alleyway along Newbury St.
littered with other hollow corpses 
the roach-people pry my body open
shell breaks, punctured 
they pierce my would-be torso
crack my spine 
and spill me out, shucked
i expand 

the sunlight stains what’s left of me into the sidewalk
crescent into the air that stains the soft bodies born to die

Sean William Dever is an Atlanta-based poet, educator, and editor with an MFA in Creative Writing with a focus in Poetry from Emerson College. He is a Lecturer of English and Writing Studies at Clayton State University and has recently been published or is forthcoming from io Literary Journal, Levee Magazine, HOOT, Stickers, Unearthed Literary Magazine, Coffin Bell Journal, and Fearsome Critters Literary Magazine and is a nominee for the Best of the Net. Sean is the Poetry Editor of Coffin Bell Journal and the author of the chapbook, “I’ve Been Cancelling Appointments with My Psychiatrist for Two Years Now,” published by Swimming with Elephants Publications.