a beginner's guide to the harvest

May 23, 2013
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step one:
when You arrive, walk in the shadows.
leave Your footprints as warnings,
and wait for the night.
when the time comes,
take them.

never let them see Your face.

step two:
peel off their names like old price stickers
and label them defective.
teach them submission
until even their shadows bend
to Your will.

remember to buy a trophy case;
You will need somewhere
to store their spirits.

step three:
make them collars out of ivory and chains.
let them see how good You are.
tell them they are worthless
until they believe it
and the word “inferior”
sounds like a lullaby.

they will thank You later.

step four:
send them to work.
wait until their hands bleed
and tell them keep marching.
when they cry, be firm.
when they strike at You, strike back.
when they beg
with real fear in those alien eyes,
pretend You cannot hear them.
hit them until they have enough scars
to know that You expect silence.

step five:
when they are lazy, push them.

step six:
when they are stubborn, be firm.
push them harder.

step seven:
when they are cracked into a thousand pieces
leave the shards where they lay.
go find a new one, and keep pushing it
until your hands look like god’s.

no back bone is ever too strong to be

step eight:
when they start breaking,
use rivets and spare thread
to hold them together.
push them just a little bit harder.
and next time,
when their tired lungs actually do give out,
toss them under the waves (keep gloves handy)
and let their bodies fall like shipwrecks
to the bottom.

when the clean-up is done, simply pick a new one.
they are Yours for the choosing.

step nine:
dig them a mass grave
and let it lie like an ashtray, waiting
for another crumpled cigarette.
assure them
that it will feel like home.

change Your shoes when the blood
seeps through the new carpet.
buy air fresheners when the smell of rot
becomes too much.
this is Your house now.
don’t ever let them forget it.

when the grave overflows,
build monuments out of their bones.
paint the walls white with their surrender
and never once say the word
because it will leave stains
that don’t scrub out.

be careful
not to leave anything
to tell Your story.

step ten:
when company comes
and their heartbeats are still
tell Your guests that the pulse
is a drumbeat hanging on long past
expiration date.
when the visitors leave and the house is empty again,
resume steps one through nine.
when they return, desist.
when You are caught, lie convincingly.
scrub the house clean so that when
they dust for fingerprints
they will only find ghosts.

when the world begins to leave messages
and the answering machine screams
"what have You done?"
close the door and click erase.

squeeze Your eyes shut and let darkness mask it all.
Stay calm.
Stay horribly, beautifully calm,
and remind Yourself
that Your intentions were always pure.

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