by David Amadio
The entrails of pirates.
Take their booty.
Dive into the ocean.
Swim north towards land.
Come ashore dripping wet.
You are shameless.
Dig a hole in the sand.
Dig with your hands.
Sea water's sloshing in your stomach.
Your partner wriggles in a bed of seaweed.
Kill your partner.
Eat his fingers while you crouch in the hole.
Discover natives.
At night, pray to the stars.
The moon is blotchy.
You'll never be forgiven.
Spy on the natives.
Kidnap a tribal daughter.
Show her the hole.
She likes the cold sand.
She smiles.
Suck the brown ring of her nipples.
Her vagina is smoke-scented.
A storm is coming.
Show her the dead, fingerless body of your partner.
Show her the booty.
She runs from the approaching storm.
You are left alone again.
Weep convulsively.
Hurl the pirate's gold.
The rain splits you open.
The wind lifts you up above the trees.
Break no bones in your landing.
Sleep for days.
Awake refreshed and virile.
Forget that you've murdered children.
Hunt the wild boar.
Pause before the grave of a tribal elder.
Wear the boar's fur like a housecoat.
You are haunted by the elder's ghost.
Listen, he says.
The tribespeople ignore him.
He appears to them in dreams.
They donít heed his warnings.
The "visiting spirit" is a load of shit.
One is supposed to gain prominence in death.
Why then is he indignantly received?
What must he do to stir them?
Answer nothing.
Gnaw your boar meat.
Pray he doesnít plead for help.
Help me, he pleads.
He says, make my presence felt.
He promises you boar and women.
Doubt him.
Kidnap another daughter.
This one you gage with a lopped snout.
Manny, the elder, appears.
He predicts a fire, a clearing blaze.
Then drought.
His people will die.
His people with their docksiders and ham radios.
Again he pleads.
Instructions are given.
You ask, the boar too, burned.
Yes, he replies.
The following day you enter the village at dawn.
You have the girl's tongue.
The tip is charred.
This you place at the foot of a clay statue.
The statue is of an elder.
Not Manny.
Leave the tongue.
Manny is proud.
He names you Calcite, Son of the Petrified Turd.
He lavishes you with fatty boar.
Your tribal daughter cannot chew.
Steal one more.
Dig a new hole, down beach.
Soon, you're visited by another ghost.
A friend of Manny's.
He predicts a flood, the great river boiling over, stewing his people.
Instructions are given.
The following day you enter the village at dawn.
You carry two pails.
One of saltwater, one of mushed raspberries.
The berries you dump into the saltwater.
This reminds you of your stomach sloshing.
Just then, the ghost of your partner appears.
His phantom shape is a lapping vapor.
He commands: My fingers, I want them back!
Point to your mouth and run.
That night, your tribal daughter explains to you the penalty for eating a dead man's fingers.
Your hands become the hands of ghosts, she says, no longer yours.
Many more will come asking favors.
She begins skinning your fingers, all ten of them, peeling away from the cuticle.
You wince and cry out.
She feeds you the skin of your fingers, humming softly to herself.
The skin finds the bones still hiding in the stomach, she says.
The bones of a dead man's fingers stay the same when swallowed.
Take her advice.
The next morning you awaken coughing up your partner's thumb.
And so on for the next nine days.
On the ninth day return to your partner's corpse.
Refinger his blackened mitts.
Kneel in the sand beside his corpse.
I want to make a man, you say, a man born of myself, my manly bones.
Your tribal daughter agrees.
That evening, she runs you through with a scalding spear.
She eats first the fingers, then, of course, the toes.
By morning, your bones are warmly preserved, stripped and neatly stacked in the bloated hull of your tribal daughter's stomach.