David Peak


Sticky-Shed Syndrome

With time a magnetic tape
images lose resolution
colors fade, a hidden corpse in keep, beneath

Here in real time
the dried bed of a once-miraculous river
watch it crack and split
a powder, a dust of phobias and church-room floors

My directions are as follows
wait patiently for the water to return
and you will find a cruelty, a purity
so many cracked and white tree branches washed ashore

Beneath Black Glass

The church surrounded
by other churches

in the distance
I cannot see

the strange shapes that
live beneath black glass
I am sure
of an endless hole—

It comes from the deep


the hole is
a heart in
shape, the muddy banks
skim a steam

the water a glop
a hive
a skin

a fly webbing
sticky black bile

Cave of Trapped Light

The missing
have fallen into the sky
spun off the planet

Sticky bombs
of silt, the murk
a system of caves submerged

in water there is no up
no down, no light
no more ocean’s roar


Worm hole—a passage
through—from my palm into
his, our hands
space folded, punctured by passage

His was the face of the child of
the Madonna, babe with a grown man’s hands

Pain entered my body, so much guilt
my heart, my disease
the pain of an eyeball bloodied
with light

the words of a prayer (you know you are going to die)
the earth’s breath pulled inward
the soil of the flat field beyond the wall
spoiled by the crooked roots of apple trees

watch it crack and split
a powder, a dust of phobias and church-room floors

Bone Church p. 1

At night
the thresher
glides through
swaying fields

cutting away—
slicing, shucking

its sound
in my stomach

reciting the names
of the all the dead horses
my family’s
set to task

Bone Church p. 2

Cries of
a horse wandering

in the night
in the distance
the spires of the black church

The worm moon casting
spells of ice

Dark farmhouses
against the sky

The horse is alone, motherless
its legs long
footing unsure

the fields have thawed
the harvest long ago

never dried
from birth


He stands over me
holding a bone saw
cuts me down the middle

My sternum cracks
opening outward—red with meat
purple lungs like frightened and flailing eels

He reaches inside—the fingers
of a barn-builder, a master craftsman—
rearranging my guts

When he is done I rise to
the pale light beyond the cave’s mouth, plant
my face in the dirt and build a church


Dead flags
the endless tombs of dead
sons and brothers and husbands

The old church archway
swarming with shadows
and quieted of the outdoors

the massive and menace
the quiet of the hum

wait patiently for the water to return
and you will find a cruelty, a purity
so many cracked and white tree branches washed ashore

Drought in the Valley

In moments of grief the earth itself
swells with molten feeling, the char of blackened forests burdened
with thick fog—the miasma—as if the very ground
we trample were raised up into the clouds, the heavens

a wild tangle of the dead growing apart, chasing tall
shadows into the dark recesses—chained winter light. Linger,
leave. The pestilence of the blowfly’s breeding
ground choked by constellations of arrowheads

O how much of myself I have buried away, an occultation
of blinding cowardice. The skies rain ash, its landings imperceptible
as a day’s aging; a foreign witness in my bathroom mirror, reflecting
the morning sun on newly sheared skin, a lamb

The Devil Sings

The trees are ruined
trunks ruptured
an impact crater ringed
with the charred corpses of
godless animals

Trees are ruins
an invocation crying out
quieting down
a trail of dust streaked
against the star-stilled sky

The devil sings his song
at night when sound rings clear
careful as he stacks his stones
always patient
never remembering

Endless Summer

Which of all those photos
we took that summer
do you think will be the one to follow

the headline:
“Bodies Found
Badly Decomposed”

misplaced somewhere in the swampy dark wood
the shapes of animal skulls
all the different ways that living things can pass

through the killing light, killing reflected
in the black of your eyes
a farmer in the city of tangled roots

witch’s laughter peckers through the trees
the fear of a bullfrog gagging on an M80
followed by a muffled pop

hear it and know

: : : : :

DAVID PEAK is the author of a horror novella, The River Through the Trees (Blood Bound Books), and a collection of short stories, Glowing in the Dark (Aqueous Books). His long-form essay on speculation, horror, and extinction, The Spectacle of the Void, is forthcoming from Schism Press. Other writing has appeared in places such as 3:AM, Action Yes, Flaunt Magazine, and Denver Quarterly.