Poison And Antidote

by Lee Foust


Low types they must have been

their pockets full of poison and antidote.


–          Samuel Beckett






No, I won’t open my eyes.  I’ll roll over, settle back in, and get comfortable again.  I won’t be delivered; I’ll try to go back to sleep. But I probably won’t be able to go back to sleep, now that I’m this awake.


Let the eyelids lay; keep ‘em forced shut – seeing the orange, the red of the sunlight through the curtains  –  there isn’t any reason to be right now, despite daylight. There’s no point in turning over either, only to have to settle back in again. Still, this now: thoughts I can’t help but see, unavoidably –


Always from this morning on when I walk out into the streets, I’ll grab any interesting face I find by the nose and pull the features forward with my left hand. Then when the skin begins to separate from the sinews and the web of muscles behind the face, with my right hand I’ll raise my hatchet high and slice downward from the forehead, pulling the face away from the skull by its nose, taking the startled expression up into the air and stuffing it into my burlap sack.


In the evening, when I return home, I’ll paste them – trimmed around the edges so they resemble masks – in rows upon the white walls of my kitchen.


My mother, being afraid of strangers, doesn’t approve of my collection of faces. She throws her head back, her nose into the air, and says, “Must you bring those things into the apartment?”


My collection remains incomplete, though, without mother, so I’ve reserved a space above the stove for her disapproving face. Someday she too will stare out over the pots and pans, her dried skin coated in the ever falling dust that’s glued to her features by the greasy fumes from the frying pan below, labeling my life a failure with her unshutting eyes.


These days she asks me over and over, “When will you ever grow up?”  And is afraid – being always afraid of death – that someday I really will.




Lee Foust lives in Florence, Italy where he writes a literary column for Florence News and Events and is the author of the literary collection Sojourner available from  Infinity Publishing.  He also wrote the entry for the band Crass in Spin Magazine’s Alternative Record Guide.

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