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John Vallone

‍In Sumeria, they talked of the cramped and dusty room

where the dead sat, barefoot and wet, eating dirt

for all eternity. No one cared if you deserved it.

No one was rewarded for good works or virtue.

Everyone picked sand from their teeth, sneezing on dust,

tonguing packed mouthfuls of clay.

Sometimes I talk about death. Mostly I talk about nothing.

Mostly I stare at the ceiling, too tired to sleep,

imagining my place in the room of the dead.

My bench is too hard.  I have an ingrown toenail.

I sit across from King Gilgamesh, half-god savior of Uruk,

now dressed in dirty rags, beard ragged and full of dust.

“Them’s the breaks,” he mumbles through his clay.

“What did you want, a medal?”

I pull the thin sheets over my head,

ignoring the balls of dust clinging to the ceiling,

dead travelers in a line.

Quiz question:

Who does the speaker of the poem sit across from in the underworld?

Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley





Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher

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Issue 16


September 22, 2017

John Vallone is a 2016 graduate of the Creative Writing BFA program at Penn State Erie, the Behrend College.  He currently lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where he is working on his first novel.

i dont feel like fininishing this website right now and i am sorry

If my fiancee

wanted to go to sleep, she'd

have to wear ear plugs.

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Issue 16

This writing was originally published in Opium Magazine, and is not listed in the archives.
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