Genetically Mutated Dwarf Mouse
I was born on an operating table; under the topaz
twilight of amethyst surgical-lights – all Frankenstein-like.
My first breath was spent mistaking a knife
for my mother; I recall the way I extended my ghoulish
paw out towards the starved steel of the scalpel.
The tree outside the laboratory’s window was split asunder
by the thunder of my first heartbeat.
I spent my childhood scrambling awkwardly in my wheel,
trying to learn the unkind mechanics of my design –
my legs were not created equal – and learning to operate
my asymmetrical spine without fumbling across
the imaginary tripwires required half of a lifetime.
I cannot dance, but now I know – my body isn’t a song,
but a metronome. I keep time.
I am a pendulum in an enormous Victorian-era
antique clock, my whiskers mimic a split pediment,
my tail is a sundial’s gnomon – none of this was an accident.
Now I know why one leg is longer than the other:
because it catalogues the minutes, not the hours.
I can only assume that I was created to be the King
of the Dwarf Mice. I have seen my reflection.
My albino pelt glistens against the midnight’s pallid
shades of pyrite. And in the night, my eyes, my snout,
my tail, glow fluorescent green – the way a construction
worker’s neon vest reflects against the testing tone
of passing headlights – my jacket shines. And at night,
amidst the laboratory’s unsettling absence of light,
my eyes look like fireflies – two dancing shards of jadeite.
Psalm for a Coastal Diner
The restaurant’s patrons quietly stared
as Death Moth entered. The sackcloth outlaw
came to rest upon the pardoning paw
of the Japanese ceramic cat on the counter –
the slipshod-mask a Rorschach-forecast
for the brackish ocean’s perpetual
foreverness – a strange attraction to static.
All murmuring collapsed into quiet
as his legs lifted off of the Bobtail,
turbine-body in trail towards the center
of a ceiling-light, and as Death Moth’s
oscillating wingtips twitched below
the orange strobe, all knew that all that was
was the crepuscular messenger’s
sobering imprint, forewings’ stigmata
glissando – a nocturnal arrangement
where for so long, there hadn’t been any music,
just noise – white unquiet, an empty of all.
Eric McClure has his BA in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he
was the winner of the Paul Carrol award for outstanding achievement in creative writing. His
work has appeared in The Red Shoes Review, the Shot Glass Journal, Prairie Margins, and The
Rusty Nail. He lives in Chicago where he is currently a graduate student at DePaul University.