Excerpt from “The Worm”
He didn’t know how the worm had come to live inside him.
Had his mom, all unbeknownst, served it up in a casserole?
Had his dad tried to toughen him up with tequila?
Had he been held down by bullies, his mouth forced open,
the worm, shit-smeared and squirming, shoved in while the other children gawped,
while Bobby Caldwell shrieked in triumph, dancing foot to foot,
while the girls he played jacks with flipped their hair and looked away?
He couldn’t say for sure.
But now the worm was part of him
and he lived with its succulent weight—
especially on overcast days,
or days when the news was all injustice.
It was a weight that curved his back,
and turned his eyes to the ground,
head too heavy to seek out companions.
He never named the worm
except perhaps to call it “just my dark sense of…”
or “sorry, I shouldn’t have said…”
or “the world would be better off without…”