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       A Verse Narrative by Michael E. Mautner


    Clark must act as taught, he thinks,
    though it isn't any fun.
    He wants to clear his throat, to drink,
    and possibly to run.  Instead
    he sits, stone still, watches a stream
    of syrup-like light pour through
    a space where late a shingle lay.
    It slithers down a rafter, flays
    off a splinter, and drips
    into his sipping eyes.
    Ellis' old face glistens
    in its beam: sagging wrinkles wave
    like a flag in the wind,
    flapping from jaw to crown,
    as speaking lips undulate --
    but Clark is deaf to all sound.
    You'd be too, seeing what he does:

        The pastor's osteal innards
        are taking the place of his skin.
        The tarpaulin
        that covers the tent of his head
        draws taut over sharp whiteness,
        melting away to reveal
        what God wove it to conceal --

            shiny enamel cloak
            cast over its dead teeth,
            a chattering mandible
            claps at a clownish skull;
            while, emerging from beneath
            familiar visages, he sees traits
            long submerged:  Chief Parker has
            a dented chin, Ma Kent wears
            a ghoulish grin, and Lana
            is getting a cavity;
            hymnal pages are being turned
            by skeletal drones!

    --     that Ellis is prattling
    to a depraved community,
    a rattling assemblage of bone.

    Clark's new vision
    has swept the chalky coat off
    a picture he thought he knew.
    It is an unflattering one,
    an image long hidden from
    dull lenses -- it makes him finally run.

    Darting from the chapel...
    Fleeing the mold, the stench
    of an insect infested edifice...
    Leaving Ma's shame and dismay
    at his behavior behind him...

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