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This poem is taken from PN Review 152, Volume 29 Number 6, July - August 2003.

Two Poems Ross Cogan

The Rat and William Longspee

The rat's nose had the measure of death. It led
her out of the tattooed dark, over the tiles,
along a thread that eased between the smells
of sweat and damp, the greasy scent of candles
filtering through the air around her whiskers.
She climbed a cloth and dropped into the coffin
landing on his arm below the shoulder
near where the shroud shrugged open at the collar,
his face exposed, weary but optimistic.
There she bit into him under the chin
and slipped into the soup bowl of the skull
chewing through ropey veins already thick
with stagnant cells like leaves choking a pool.
Somebody must have seen the neat, bright hole,
the flakes of flesh like sawdust on the shroud
...


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