The Last Testament of Man – C. Noel Carlson

I am nothing now but mercuric fish wrested
from alkaline rivers, scraps scavenged
from cellars and towering skeletal structures

(bridges to nowhere suspended

in choking haze, windows
like empty eyes blind of life)
scattered ash pocked
with feverish tracks of the doomed­­

Worlds without borders

In the dying light I scour
a leather­bound text
saved from the rubble—memorial

finger the name embossed in gold
of a man long gone.

Be fruitful and multiply, fill
and subdue. There is a time
to kill.
By now, I know it by heart.

A willowy figure appears
a beast grown fat
in the conquering ivy. Slashes

the belly, removes the reeking
blood to the elbows­­

even the ghosts starved.
of ancient milestones
dragging her prize­­
she doesn’t speak.
She adds to her necklace of tongues
and teeth.

When we met, she was linen
stitched by machine, a useless
hoard of batteries and bourbon.

broadened now with neglect, her body
wild with sinew and scent

(in the dark she takes me
but doesn’t accept my seed­­
Her brows
a future race abandoned).

I fear my offering is insufficient­­
chalk on the wall of a goddess hunting,
a driftwood blaze for the meal.

Give me some of that red stew, I gesture.
The steel knife flashes.
Her grey eyes glitter.


C. Noel Carlson works as a writer and editor in Columbus, Ga. She has fond memories of growing up in a colder climate, and blames her lack of small talk on being raised among snowmen. She has a bachelor’s in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University and began her love of words with Edgar Allan Poe and his Tell-Tale Heart. She rants and fictionizes at Tear Up The Planks.