Erik Fuhrer

[the treebutchers]

the treebutchers made 20 hits a day

their hands calloused 
like the bark    they eat twigs
                                                consuming their kills

cannibalism is a thin red line
                                                especially when
                                                the treebutchers began to sprout
                                                leaves from their eyes


the treebutchers read 
ionesco's the rhinoceros 
             as they brush 
                       the leaves 
                                  out of their line of vision

                       though it is hard to read when your entire eye is in the shade

christ is 
to have told hypocrites
to cast out the beam
from their own eye 
before casting the dust
out of their brother’s eye

                        so the treebutchers begin to blow in each other's eyes 
                        but the leaves continue to sprout

one of the treebutchers manages
to read Ionesco's entire play
through the side of their eye 
and turns into a squirrel

the treebutchers beg it
to clear the leaves
from their eyes 
with its teeth but 
it climbs a tree instead

                         when they cut it down 
                                                the squirrel bites them 
                                                             in the fingers instead
                                                                        then runs away


the blight 
of the treebutchers 
infected them each 
at a different pace
                       some began to root whereas some 
                                            continued to cut

eyes were not needed to butcher
                                                             their bodies had its rhythms in their bloodstreams


soon all the treebutchers took root
and the cutting stopped
                                     along with the growing


the treebutchers petrified 
and the squirrels bit 
off their broken branches
trying to save their homes
in the treebutchers mouths
                                                 to no avail


the apocalypse came as a treebutcher    slicing 
                                                                                   down the petrified trees with its teeth

[I knew  
                            I could deal with this]

             can deal with this 
                                               it is only one less
                                                                        body  one
                                                                        more absence

                                    I can handle absence if it comes
                                                            in ones
                                                            if it comes
                                                            by itself
                                                                                wrapped in tears             weeping

                                                            just dry it out:

                                                                                    it is no problem
                                                                                    it is no mess
                                                                                    only one less thing to hold
                                                                                    only one less body to remember

                               if they keep it coming
                                                one by one                  if they keep
                                                 dying with the turn of the clock
                                                            tick tick tick
                                                                        if they keep moving backward
                                  into death
                                                                                   in a forward motion
             if they
                        as individual

           I will become   a master at this

                       one by one by one 
                                    the bodies pile up
                       until one is many

                        just because the body is gone
                       does not mean the absence of the body is gone

[pleasure body] 

will heft itself 
on thistles    pock 
its skin in the soft places
draw enough 
blood for a blur 
of pleasurepain 
and then make itself a warm salve 
of leaves and green tea. 

              pleasure body knows how 
              to breathe 
              just shallow enough
              to create heartbeats 
              feels the heat 
              from skin to bone
              when a hand 
              is placed
              on the stovetop

when pleasure body has time
              it traces itself 
                           on the walls 
                           feels itself swell         with light

Erik Fuhrer holds an MFA from the University of Notre Dame. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in BlazeVOX, Dream Pop Press, Maudlin House, and Cleaver.
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