David Tomaloff

Monster Manual

I sought to appease their souls. I sought to grant them mercy.
—Robert Kloss, The Alligators of Abraham

In my hands / a hymn of dispossession / In my head / I’m hearing love songs
—The Constantines, Arizona

You wake as a time machine, floorboards charred & troubled by the ghosts of alligators. You think the word virtue. You: a) scrawl footnotes & other marginalia on their tombstones, hysterical, or b) invent a silencer, fit & mounted to the phallus of your trusty bayonet.

You dream yourself alone & in love with such worldly monsters. You repeat words like admirable & superlative to pass away the time. When the dark curls its tongue around your cabin door & now it is as night, you will: a) sound out the word m_o_n_s_t_e_r, until its letters cleave space wide enough that your family might safely pass, or b) toss coins down into the harbor until the word that rings out is a variation of pride.

The coat-wool cinched about your neck bristles against the skin, scratches into it the words hull / buy / -er. You: a) listen deep into the sea & question the night sky as if its eyes would never again wander, or b) so hungry, you say, & I see. But, unlike the keeper of this body, the alligators will rise to put remedy to all of that—

                come to me now
                you are warming weather
                come to me now
                the kind that comes with
                sandbags along the river [1]

The Skeletor Sequence

In a town named for its mudflats & dead, boys take time with their victims; girls keep an eye out & a light on, just in case. Mother had always warned how someone so fair could ply another with cakes & waterworks—with hips & with things. She said that Father had packed himself into that suitcase on the day of my birth, & how he’d moved into the basement so that he might never mishandle another heart again—

                                                            /// & singing ///

                                   shape me & push me
                                   into the water, O love—

                                   give to me the sound
                                   of wire, & stretch
                                   the holes from my disease.


[1] Five lines from the John Vanderslice song Trance Manual.


David Tomaloff builds things out of ampersands and light. His work has appeared in several chapbooks, anthologies, and in fine publications such as Metazen, Heavy Feather Review, Connotation Press, The Northville Review, Necessary Fiction, HTML Giant, A-Minor, Pank, and elimae. He is also co-author of the collaborative poetry collection YOU ARE JAGUAR, with Ryan W. Bradley (Artistically Declined Press, 2012). Send him threats: davidtomaloff.com.