Rat King, Briana Gonzalez
CW: mentions of blood
Slick, seborrheic shoving and screaming, tangled
tantrum of one another—we thrash and squeal,
sludge smeared on ratty palms—knotted together,
over-the-shoulder fear and avoiding your photographed
eyes—wrestling with sebum, with spectral splicing—you
dart away, we grind teeth and claw you back—rats do not have hands like this.
Double star of poisoning: your photo on the bed
side table, gnawing holes in cardboard so we steal
one last wet-nose sniff of your pretend-survival—your
inactive Instagram account—shriveled shells of memorial
flowers and programs—your phantom bite
in our grieving—I’m letting myself bleed.
You scurry into grave—darkness—we, dragged
along, fur-crumple, tear-matted—the embrace
of rotting, forgetting your smell—we’re tethered
together—writhing, wailing, weeping wishes
of restoration, heads bowed, forepaws folded—I practice indents of kneeling, swiping at dead beads in the damp—yelling at your stranger-stocked house— it’s the losing rats, who whine and shriek.
Briana Gonzalez is a Chicana/e queer poet and an MFA candidate at the University of Colorado Boulder. They have pieces published in Coffin Bell Journal, Southchild Lit, Green Ink Poetry, and The Raven Review. She plays tabletop roleplay games and drinks far too many Monsters. Check Briana out at bgwriting.org.