The Accursed

Numbers 13:33


And we were in our own sight
as grasshoppers
the breathless scouts reported,
all agog at the sons of Anak,
said they looked thick
as brick towers challenging heaven,
measured their days in dog years
& no doubt were hung
like horses. The land itself
swelled with promise, fit
to burst with monstrous fruit:
a cluster of grapes that took
two to lift, fat figs & pomegranates,
great walled cities sprouting
from the plain like leprous wens.

What further pestilence might
a Lord of Hosts intend for
this land that eateth up
the inhabitants thereof?
And the refugees foregoing
such a feast—blind
to such manifest blessings—
chirruped & fought & flew.
Some drowned in fetid gasses when
the ground gaped beneath them,
a literal swallowing. Others
used themselves up in one
mass mating flight, surrendering
the field to the golden calf
& the bellowing of its jealous sire.


In the full-
ness of time
a new generation emerges,
teeming in the desert hills
where only shepherds
might catch a glimpse
of distant clouds, & at night
if they strain their ears
can make out a kind
of low whirring right
at the edge of sleep.

And their dreams start feeding them
phantasmagoria of whetstones,
the stridulation of shields
on countless hips, & now
& again a seismic rumble,
like the sound of ten
thousand parched mandibles

or a single immense pestle
circling, grinding in
an empty bowl.


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