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Chris Bullard

Day of the Dead

Calaveras Literarias


I’d buried my past selves in desert graves

where the authorities wouldn’t look.

Now, they’ve returned, dressed in my clothes,

masked with my likeness,

assuming a seat at the table. 

Don’t they know how I’ve celebrated

the years of their absence?

I won’t share their bitter jokes.

I won’t scar the altar with their empty bottles.

I’m telling them to go.

I wish them into that outer world

beyond my caring. The soul I clawed back

from a sand filled skull, I offer only to you,

who breathed life into my remains.




Once they seemed as innocent

as a milk bottle soul, these wings


that carried me in updrafts of breath.

Now, they appear on my CT scan


like the peppered moths darkened

by industrial melanism


in Victorian London. Unable

to catch wind, they drag me earthward,


though the longing is still there

to fly invisibly on grafted feathers


like H. C. Andersen’s fellow traveler,

an underworld man returned


from his unpaid casket to slay

the ogre and unhex the black swan,


redeeming her beauty,   

as these blots, these erasures,


this corruption in the chest,

might yet be the source of creation.


Chris Bullard is a retired judge who lives in Philadelphia, PA. In 2022, Main Street Rag published his poetry chapbook, Florida Man, and Moonstone Press published his poetry chapbook, The Rainclouds of y. His poetry has appeared recently in Jersey Devil, Stonecrop, Wrath-Bearing Tree, Waccamaw and other publications. He was nominated this year for the Pushcart Prize.


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