“Hell hounds do not speak but understand Infernal.”
–Dungeons and Dragons Wiki entry on Hell Hounds.
Sulfurous trail, smoldering prints;
niter in its pads, flint in its claws,
gasoline for blood, naphtha tears,
a tail barbed with obsidian like an Aztec macahuitl,
sawing Achilles tendons in its frisky moods.
And since self-sufficiency is key,
this proud hound is endowed
with both sets of genitalia--
parthenogenesis ain’t nothing but a thing
when you’re as deep South as Hell is.
To touch the pearlescent teeth of the spinal ridge,
or to caress the glistening sinew of skinless shoulders,
is to needle your palms with powdered glass,
cactus spines, and tarantula hairs.
Is this not beauty?
Unmarketable, indigestible beauty
that can’t be pinned down,
but prefers to do the pinning,
that scoops the eye from the beholder’s socket
with the serrated spade of a bladed tongue.
Jonathan Louis Duckworth is an MFA student at Florida International University. His fiction, poetry, and non-fiction appears in or is forthcoming in New Ohio Review, Fourteen Hills, Literary Orphans, Cha, Off the Coast, Superstition, and elsewhere.