The original Night of the Living Dead, all silver shadowed black and white, would rise up in my hypnagogic sixteen-year-old brain and I would pray to bar it from my dreams. Not because of gore, the guts and greyscale blood. Because the Sadness. Emptiness both more and less than death. The little girl who turned and ate her parents, the man who ate his sister, all the love reduced to vacant. Yes I know it’s funny. I probably shouldn’t have watched it stoned. Later it was Shelter, when the little boy let his sister in, she begged him and he let her in and then my muscles felt like meat. It’s fake, of course, but I know other stories.
Little slips of paper rolled up tight, as tight as I can roll them small as I can fold them, words and pictures, toddler down the stairs to the sound of unclean laughter, a mother at a bus stop, a woman-girl whose pleas I carry in my shallow pocket. My chest a hollow barrel, echoing for her. Her death is not her story and I don’t know what she wanted, only mercy maybe explanation once, at first. I know the opposite of love is zombie pulse. Empty barrel vacant lot, not even monstrous. Eel-eyed silver black and white, and black and white and red is what I find here, characters with dreams reduced to gore for our amusement their amusement our catharsis. Vintage driving gloves, blonde hair or black, a schoolgirl skirt. Beautiful humans ugly undead, I can't tell the difference if there is one. (Yes there must be, make it so.) I wandered into aimless death and kept on reading. Now that piece of black and white is in my keeping, and I cannot seem to leave it with the others, the other tales tucked safe and lonely into cracks and crevices in the long low wall that no one else can visit, only me. I fear my own narcissism. My denial defends me. I caulk the wall with one more slip of paper.