Literary Orphans

“Dissection” & “Ashes to Ashes” by Courtney Cook


I’m telling myself he isn’t jerking off

over the frog, that he’s thirteen,

that his body said ‘now’ and he obeyed.

Belly glistening in formaldehyde

I expose the gray insides, the shriveled

heart no longer wet with river water.

A quiet glide of scissors. Oh

the sounds of being split into parts.

Tangled intestines preservative gorged.

He is an animal drowning

in all that enters and leaves a body,

the need to extract himself from himself.

I throw the empty frog in the trash

next to his cum. Everything all at once.


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Ashes to Ashes

I dream     I peel his body from the road

and he actually comes up in one piece.     There are no flies

or sounds of buzzing.     No blood     on his blue collar,

polyester and iron blend. Fur that doesn’t smell like it’s rotting,

no rotting     or man who comes to scrape him off pavement

with a shovel. Please,     be more gentle. He was my first:

my finicky old man, my dumb who rescued who bumper sticker,

my bed sharer and bad breathed child.     You’re putting him

with mangle.      roadkill. ticks and deer and flat.

I only wanted to check if the candle was still burning.

I want to call Animal Control on the man who pat my back,

said he saw him there yesterday turning to goo and walked away.

I have no paw print for the mantle or body for the backyard

so I stand outside the crematorium, let ash

fall into my hair like snowflakes, try and take a piece

of him,                 all the forgotten bodies,

fall into my hair like snowflakes, try and take home.


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Courtney Cook is an MFA candidate at the University of California, Riverside, and a graduate of the University of Michigan. An essayist, poet, and illustrator, Courtney‘s work has been seen in The Rumpus, Hobart, Lunch Ticket, Maudlin House, and Entropy Magazine, and is forthcoming in Split Lip Magazine. When not creating, Courtney enjoys napping with her senior dog, Francie.


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–Art by Marcos Lomba