Chani Zwibel (Western Voices 2020)

Exclusive: Western Voices, 2020: Edited by Scott Thomas Outlar
Bio: Chani Zwibel is the author of Cave Dreams to Star Portals and Star Portals to Cash Registers. She is an associate editor with Madness Muse Press. She graduated from Agnes Scott College in 2011. She was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but now dwells in Marietta, Georgia, with her husband and their dog.

Grief Stages

In respect for the dead we will now have a final brief visitation. Please come in this room is quite small.  Bid your last farewells.  How do undertakers have such bright tropical fish? Someone must undertake the task of mourning. Someone must devote their lives to the dead.  A perfect circle never ends. But there is no perfection here, only a staged resemblance.   

Grey cloak of cloud, weeping slow rain, observing the sun, ride upon a black steed to the edge of darkness, find me here. Serving the whims of the monster at large, the demon in the kingdom of dust. A blur of faces caught between the fear of dying young and the desire to save money. The dark shadow calls many to its service, although few understand its ways. It feasts on mischief. Do not despair. Do not drown in sorrows. Its ancient tie to this land, its old hold upon a bloody tree stump, long dissolved into the earth keeps it here, but it recognizes when you are of the light. It begs your service as a fence, needs tenders at the gates of darkness.

Despair likes to squat on my shoulder digging its talons into my back, and it whispers into my ear how I’ll never be good enough. I can smell the hot stench of its breath. I try to shake it off, but it is comfortable in its roost with its claws tangled in my hair, confident it will keep me where it wants me forever.  I fight it, infused with living, ebullient, light turned-on, energy burning like an ancient sun. 

Mother and Father, a brief sketch

Lay-minister, prophetess, tiny dancer, screaming, crying, weeping, praying, hands in dishwater, garden earth, folded laundry, vacuum cleaner, sweeper song, lemon furniture polish, hurricane lamps, rose-painted domes.

“Dig a hole in the backyard and throw me in it”, hands grimed tar black smell of fish and steel, steering wheel, screeching tires, chew wad at gum line, brown spit in iced-tea carton lemon-tea-tobacco, brown beer bottles. Stacked in recycling bins, crates of emptied addiction.

College Educated

You can understand
Only a shadow
Of what is:
When the dinosaur comes out of the forest, you shoot him.
Certain objects are worth
More than others.
Far from home, I study new education.
I know song writers and linguists, journalists, scientists, women of renown. 
We are all slowly dying by increments.
I learn a desire for a modern world:
Shiny, new and geometric, a buzzing place, with plenty of machines.


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