Caleb Tankersley

the love of saints

Round, milky slices of sushi,
the Pabst couldn’t gargle down.
Grains of rice slithering through my teeth,
I’m trying not to embarrass you
as I’m gagging in front of a crowd.

Happy St. Valentine’s Day.

Later, spooning on the bed,
I’m choking on humidifed vodka.
Vodka like sweat, vodka like cologne
settling into a thin layer
across your slick, milky skin.
I can taste the inconsistencies
crackling open like Russian dolls.

Practicing Latin, acta sanctorum,*
I’m swung like a bat,
sending invisible baseballs flying
into chic lamps you admit
are too good for you.

The change in lighting killed the mood,
omnes una manet nox.**

But you don’t listen,
gargling down the last you’ll ever taste of me
with the clear syrup that sustains you,
barely and somehow.

*acta sanctorum = “the acts of the saints”
**omnes una manet nox = “the same night awaits us all”


Church Bells

When I hear church bells
drawing out their sound
I can’t help but wish they’d

I’d like to hear the rising pitch,
the dome propelled, clanging to the street,
fire bursting out the doors
and windows
raining shards of stained

Trust me, God,
it doesn’t make you any less
of a man,
every once in a while,
to clean house


Caleb Tankersley is a doctoral candidate at the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. He’s had previous work in Midwestern Gothic, Cutthroat, Big Muddy, and other magazines. He’s held jobs at a call center, a corn syrup factory, a Dairy Queen, and a drug rehab facility. He feels at home in trailer parks.