Returning to Dead Places

Tristan Beiter

Returning to Dead Places

“When you die, you go to Baghdad”
where the ghouls lie
in wait, stripping flesh down

to a handbag—
left at Michaelmas Station
with three jars of marmalade
and rotten eggs

coating bones—eyes and teeth
shining to devour
the maggots, slime,

what we found in Victoria Street
under the post-box
or maybe at the corner
by the Fish & Chips stand

with the jackals
nipping the ghouls’ ankles.
The fire is the sand

and the stairs to the underground
and the tunnels that burn
beneath the city

where the man with the ring
stands before his seventy-
two servants. The dust kicks up

around the trains.
The drive and rock
of steam, the reek

when wind tears at
strings of hair, and the bones
scatter themselves

in the tunnels where
we wait to pass into
the crypt.


Tristan Beiter is a poet and speculative fiction nerd from Central Pennsylvania. His poems have previously appeared or are forthcoming in such publications as Liminality, GlitterShip, and Eternal Haunted Summer. When not reading or writing, he can be found crafting absurdities with his boyfriend or yelling about literary theory. Find him on Twitter at @TristanBeiter.

Editor’s Note: The poem (seems to me) can be read in three ways: as a left-justified column of contiguous verses, as a right-justified column of contiguous verses, and most delightfully across the page as alternating left and right verses.

 “Amine Discovered with the Goule” is the illustration for “History of Sidi Nouman” of the Arabian Nights. Engraving from The Arabian Nights Entertainments, translated by the Reverend Edward Forster, carefully revised and corrected by G. Moir Bussey. Published London 1840. [And the downloaded image is by R. Smirke, Esq., R.A. Digitized by Google Books. –, Public Domain,]

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