Two Pieces//Hannah Beilenson


Mid-evenings, say 5 or 6, out to dinner in the lingering wetness of June, before anyone can commit to running the world,

 

you can see bill clinton power-walking

in a sweater-vest and sandpaper khakis,

arms curling past the water-line of his nipples,

smiling like a dead televangelist, an ordinary

whistle threaded between his tidy teeth.

Seen: a blunt woman in umber loafers,

clad in flannel and a gun and a wire

in the ticking, dirtied heel of her shoe

and bill clinton consumes as he moves,

his arms stretching thirty impossible yards

to shake hands in the shadow of a Starbucks

bathroom while he steals Splenda packets.

 

Imagine this: a faulty fist lingering then ramming into our window

expanding in yellow sugar, attached to a pulled dough limb,

stiff like a bird against a paned screen, jittery against

the sugar glass collapsing over its twitching palm.

He follows the knot of his arm and picks up

his limp hand in a puddle of orange sweat,

finds a bit of blood blessing his swollen cheeks.

 

He’d reach to greet our group but

he’s a leaking man, displaced,

a bird flapping itself into congress.

I put a napkin on his forehead

and let it soil itself, I’ve got to know.

“why do you live here?”

 

         Little lady, look, your feet are bluedead

         because you won’t cover the arches.

         They’re old and damp and waiting to be

         pulled off like sourdough bread dipped in coffee.

         I’m comfortable and capable of keeping warm.

         I can’t continue this case for big cities.

 

I’d rather chew on my glass crusted linguini

or eat butter with a kitchen knife than listen

to shit like that. So I show the president my inside

voice, take his dead hand in my mouth

and curl his fingers with a wet muscle.

Find a sweet gag under my jaw.

//

Corrupted Blood Incident

 

 

What the creators didn’t account for were the animals, who could carry the disease out of battle and infect others long after the fight. There were cities of bones. There were buildings like monuments to the Capela dos Ossos. Chalk dusted the inside of your computer screen.

 

You watched yourself die. Then you came back, a reincarnation in the center of your universe, an empty purse cloaked in velvet and placenta. A baby in used skin twitching at the touch of an arrow. There were piles of leaves in September, bleached and cut into femurs.

 

People reacted to the plague differently. Ones with healing abilities would go from town to town and offer their magic; others left the cities in swarms, opting to populate the less inhabited countryside. You would follow walking trails of fresh flesh, tour guides would tell you, the hike is a temporary reprieve from the problem, call this the Hotel Oregon Trail. Some players just wanted to see it. Reporters walked into the quarantine with lead pencils stowed under the first layer of skin. Some players wanted to spread it. They walked out.

 

You dropped your belongings in abandoned houses for yourself to find. You spent all your money save for a gold-plated coin under your tongue. You walked behind death, you died backwards, before someone with a soft spot for decomposition could watch you change.

 

Anyone below level 60 died. Within days, people disconnected and gameplay came to a sudden halt. You visited only vacant towns. You only visited vacant towns. There was no blood. Just white carpet on the cobblestones, just the ground dust of marrow.

This is Hannah Beilenson’s first publication. She is currently studying English and Jazz at Washington University in St. Louis, and is an intern at december magazine. She also runs The Sexy Fisherman blog (she likes it, and hopes you do too)!