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©2018 Barren Magazine. An Alt.Lit Introspective.

Cartilage, An Elegy


by Brennan Sprague

Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.
-Kurt Vonnegut

Our separate selves whiplashed
into twin stupors when we finally
found your lost dog—her wet tongue
sunk in the crater of this drowned carcass,
its hollow ribs heaved open, eyes black holes
absorbing the autumn light, floating there
like a sick prize—black pond thawed to reveal
itself a flooded coffin, paws matted with murk,
flies haloing the open wounds like curious stars,
your dog’s teeth cleansed, cold sun beating down
on our backs, our eyes diseased, because what the fuck?
We drove to the parlor for my septum piercing.
The sterilized needle weaved through cartilage,
patient glimmering fang. I squeezed your hand,
expecting pain. There was none. We discussed
hygiene & jewelry. I left a tip, saw Lady Bird,
fell asleep in the theater—dreamt of the aching
bark of those quiet hours, of the maggots at dawn
swarming the beautiful husk like they won the prize.
And so we scrawl our oblique initials into oaks, howl at grocery bags
adrift, anything to prove to anyone who will listen that we’re dying
to be anything. Repeat after me. This perfect dog never suffered.
This perfect dog never suffered. This perfect dog never suffered.
I pierced my nose and it didn’t hurt.

Header photograph © Asher.

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