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Wood and Candy

by Mazerick Betko

I wish I could remember the first words ever spoken. Recalling remnants of a language louder than the lists of this lifetime. I want to reach into my liver and procure the first joyful sound that traveled through sludge. Liquor maims and molests my magnitude. Sticking sick satisfaction up my ass with every dry heave. I prefer to crouch on the toilet. The way my bowels move is magnificent. The way men and women moved through my wounds with banality paled to the extravagance with which my parents propagated grief. If radical is of the root, then I am returning, inhabiting the first words ever spoken by dust. Waste is propaganda spread to frighten you from the casualties of change.

Image is of four faceless manikins.
Image credit: Vadzim Ramanovich on Unsplash

Keep asking why. The child is bathed in riches that were stolen from most of us. I know you are aware of wealth because of grave thefts in the mishandling of your own value. You were never a burden. They told you that you were bad with their eyes and the movements of their bodies away from your body. They lied to you. Nothing bad has ever happened here. Nothing bad has ever happened in your body. You are perfect, but so were they. This is the gleam of authenticity that pervades your perception, your orbit reeling around the reality of these words. Every wound was meant to last. And we have held the movement of time, perfectly preserving pain by the fermentation of our flesh. I love you, as in I see you, graciously accepting every fortunate fumble.

Wonder winds me. My curiosity culminates in a collection of crude and inconsequential occasions. Corroding calluses could kill my sexy cynicism. What a waste. Do not underestimate the sanctity of sutures on a fresh wound. It’s hard to feel fresh after a while. We are all ugly sometimes. So many Sundays stomped on my stupid little spirit. I’m losing myself in the cold. These corduroy pants could not protect me from the cold snap slithering up my sleeves. Every time he told me to put on a sweater, I wanted to pee on his face. He liked to tell me how bad he had it, that indifference would suit me more than indignation. He liked to put ideas in the air before my face, blowing them in my direction on the smoke of his cigarette. He liked to watch me wonder at potential, eternally enamored with what could be. I would inevitably crumble in time with the wood stove coals as I saw my hope sweating off the side of his beer bottle. The string that suspended sly suggestions emerged in the foreground of my vision. I left my anticipation in the outhouse for him to shit on.

Every time my mother questioned her own strength, I wanted to grab her ears with my teeth and blow spit in her mouth, screaming at the back of her throat, hoping my cries would arrive in her large intestine and crack the caked sediment of fear from her fragile femininity. She would radiate when given the opportunity. Never demanding space unless it could be captured from the fragile hands of a child. Smugly, she would stumble with her own sexuality, fumbling temptation for anyone with eyes for her. I realized as my body began to bleed and my breasts began to bulge, and my groin grew moist, mustering pubescent panic in my frontal lobe — I had been trained for a stage that could not be shared. If I had to be a whore, she would not be my panderer.

Wood and Candy creep up on my bank balance. Twelve bars and two bundles later I am almost ready to wrap up. I wish I could remember the first sounds uttered by organisms. They must have echoed off the edges of eternity without intention. How beautiful it must have been never to be perceived. Dust dances on each strip of plastic stacked in suspension above my bed. The windows leak wind and I am in myself. I will greet the light switch in the morning with grace.


Black and white photo of the autor, Mazerick Betko.
Mazerick Betko

Mazerick Betko is a multidisciplinary artist and teacher in Birmingham, Alabama. They use writing, music, bookmaking, drawing and performance to tell stories about intimacy, heartbreak, damaging memories and hope. Their work is interested in the contradictions of intimacy and how we can move through the world with more grace.

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