An excerpt from Mark Doten's The Infernal


Pushed through committee room door same seat and desk same mic whose sharp black bud was stuck there yet again to coax or spirit or otherwise prize from his lips who knows what putatively incriminating shit for the gathered senators to smear the walls with and point at the walls and send a photo of the walls back home to the ravening over-it un-pay-tree-aughts in advance of the campaign season aw-shucksing—Well lookee here, will you just take a LOOK at all this SHIT!—and gavel, bang, it’s Vermont and Pennsylvania and the great state of South Carolina (et tu, LindZAY?) easeling photos and jabbing fingers and all the rhetorical blah blah blah (to which: ongoing prosecutions prevent), the senators trotting out the Dobermans the tub of ice the flesh pyramids of boys the boy with razors in his food the hooded boy with dangling wires and here it is at last like you knew it would be the lady soldier in high heels and sequined evening gown all gussied up and painted and how she’s clicking her tongue rear left of the mouth tchick for the camera.

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You can’t hear the tchick but can’t you just tell from the wink and slantwise grin that’s the noise she’s making plus how she points at the detainee so jaunty and all, snap of the fingers, click of the tongue (snap, tchick) and points (there he is!), a woman in evening wear pointing or finger-gunning at a boy who jacks it while all the other soft dark nude boys stand on deck hooded in green polyethylene, and wouldn’t those other boys have been hearing it, too? the snap, tchick plus the fap fap of a boy jacking a semiflaccid cock plus who knows what commands or commentary from the cameraman plus the shimmery swish of sequins and the heels clicking in this last photo in the array of two dozen photos arced on their easels (and in all of these the distant muffled thunder of the eternal sandstorm enveloping the desert fortress in which they were taken), an arc of photos placed before the concentric arc of the oaken dais where the enraged senators stare out like birds long since pinioned with dull stainless docking scissors yet somehow (simple beasts that they are) coming to the knowledge of their mutilation each moment anew, even as that knowledge already slips away, the flagstones and planks underfoot in this centuries-old basement committee room creaking and only half-muffling ponderous subterranean echoes and somewhere a gavel striking wood."

Read the full excerpt in Guernica.

Doten : THE INFERNAL : Cover Image.jpg