Sin Eating




for William

The bread is burned and the spirits are flat.

He is The Body—unidentified—misremembered,

and someone asks, “what happened?” and the locusts descend.


Someone saw him just yesterday.

Someone talked to him a few hours ago.

Someone wants this to be a lie.

Someone needs to know what to tell their children.

Someone claims he was “Joe’s cousin.”

Someone knows where The Body fell.

The bread is misshapen and too salty, and bits fall to nothing before their time.

The spirits are little more than water, and they slosh too heavy over their container.


He is identified—27withnarcotics—misremembered,

and someone says, “I’m not surprised” and the worms away with his tongue.


Amidst the photos used in his lineup, the last place he will be witnessed—

Shot A, middle finger up, smoke slinking around his neck

Shot B, long fingernails and sunburnt fingers, cradling a rounded herb

Shot C, in the middle of a group of men, the beautiful one—

He stands facing the camera, his face brilliant, his soul leaking out.

A spatula is in his hand, his face unmarked by tattoos and his



Of Time.

He is smiling and it is tugged to the top, collapsing under the weight of

misremembrances and


It is a meek offering and it does not go down easy.


The bread is not enough. It tastes of tears.

The spirits are not enough. They taste of blood.

He is Names He Was Not Given—everyone has taken a piece of him, now—misremembered

And someone shouts, “his name was William” and for a moment, they are silent.


Someone counts their own breaths—in and out. in and out.

Someone cannot see through their tear-strained eyes.

Someone began shaking hours ago and cannot seem to stop shaking.

Someone needs to hear him and dials him over and over and over and over and over.

Someone counts every movement as one he will not know.

Someone feels guilty for thinking about him in the past tense.

The bread is burned and the spirits are flat.

His memory is tugged from the clutches of thieves

And he is not The Body and he is not Names He Was Not Given


He was William.

He was beautiful.

He was human.


*I give easement

And rest now

To thee, dear William.

Come not down the lanes

Or in our meadows.

And for thy peace

I pawn my own soul.






*from The Sin-Eaters Prayer


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