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The Devil's Book

There’s no fun in witchery these days. Sure, I shudder cops with invisible needles, but magic’s no calling. I simply asked to die on my own terms.

Meanwhile, the Earth’s sick of our ego. It will outlast us. We’ll burn ourselves out and no one will grieve and good riddance— Devil take us.

Tituba refused The Devil’s Book. Before the good people, she testified: I love the dust on my heels when I am luxurious alone

and they heard dancing with the Devil. God gave me imagination and a just will and they heard the flight of women above steeple and meeting house.

Tituba was no witch. She simply saw the nooses each citizen held. They ran themselves ragged.


Remembering God after Three Years of Depression

Where was your familiar body, rough hands smelling of rosemary? Insomnia watched me, wild-haired, unwashed, like an officer. Perhaps, the light through the keyhole was you, floorboards straining in another room. In the hall, a sleepwalker, like divine love, sang the blues, bleeding dream into the world. I feared a knock at the door. I needed a hand. Would you have found me on the deflated air mattress, among filthy shirts, half-eaten food? I don’t know what to call doubt when you are here and I am not. What is it to be exiled in you? Maybe if I’d been drinking red instead of white. I had no space in me for less than life.


Derrick Austin is the author of Trouble the Water (BOA Editions). A Cave Canem fellow, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best American Poetry, Image: A Journal of Arts and Religion, New England Review, Gulf Coast, The Nation, Tin House, and other anthologies and publications. He was a finalist for the 2017 Kate Tufts Discovery Award.

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