The Earth Does Not Refuse What It is Given

He holds his hand against the sun, looks out at the combine in the field, where Father bled out. A figure shimmers in the heat, leaning near the engine, walking to the cab, reaching for the door, repeating, neither fixing what needs repair nor able to move beyond the task of trying.


Mother mistrusts the machinery. In every nick on Father’s skin she saw tooth and claw marks of entities hollow, soulless, and hungry. They’re like wild animals, and your daddy trusted them too much.


Mother cleansed a sleeper sofa where she sensed a great deal of fornication had taken place: Unclean spirits revel in the taint of bodily fluids and the machinery of gears and springs, two things fueling the spiritual and physical ruin of mankind.


Father will rise from between

the furrowed folds of the field and fly in on the wind

he is in the pleats and wrinkles

of my skin he’s in my pores


Mother calls from inside.

He grips the hammer head and goes on grinding charcoal with the handle, mixing in water and Father’s ashes. Palms blister, break, and bleed.

He stands in the darkened living room, fingers dipping into the raw throbbing center of their own palms, sticky with blood and plasma.

Mother’s prayers cease. Face tightens. Inhale. Hold. Slow release.
Let me see your hands.


Mother sitting inside the gutted house, swollen with spirit. Flies land, enter, and exit her mouth. Mother’s spirit is carried to heaven in the bellies of a billion flies. Her spirit is greater than her body and will require many trips.


He wipes the sweat out of his eyes and looks again. Father’s figure still moves back and forth in the rising heat but has lost definition, human form melted away, dissolved into mere movement.

Josh Maday lives in Michigan. His work has appeared or is forthcom- ing in Action Yes, Apostrophe Cast, Barrelhouse, IsReads, Keyhole Magazine, Lamination Colony, Phoebe, Word Riot, and elsewhere. He can be found online at Email him at