This is a town whose colors crawl from the shadows
Of nicks and corners.
Dust rolls up
The encapsulating outer walls of the town every other Tuesday,
The walls are 100 feet tall and there is no wind here
Peter and Lee are getting married
In the Jonsons’ inn on the west side of town:
I have never met Peter, Lee or the Jonsons,
Nor have I ever been driven to count
The number of rocks that make up the city’s walls.
The graveyard is very beautiful
When the sun peeks through the angry gray brushstrokes
That people call clouds,
All of the flowers are the same color.
The town holds a meeting every year
To determine how many people live
Within our protecting walls,
I do the headcount, the number is always
No one really knows
What their neighbor’s face looks like;
No one really cares
To try and paint portraits around here.
There are just as many alchemists
As there are mercenaries in this place,
There is no jail,
And both services cost the same.
The Jonsons open the inn at 7 am and close at 12 am,
Just in time to prevent Richard from walking in
Pushing an empty stroller.
The bar is open 24/7.
There are 26
People in this town,
James lives down in the well,
He gives us water and we breathe him air.
The church’s people have had to move the chapel
12 feet East every year
To make more room for the cemetery.
Its been 70 years since I tried to leave this place,
I am the sheriff,
Business here is slow, the undertaker gets more business than I do.
There are always 26 people,
Never stays “around” for long.
Sometimes I can hear ‘everyone else’ sing,
Their monotone pitch of pain gives roses their rose.
It is January when they gain strength
And melody turns into the screeching
Of nails drawing against wood.
It must be beautiful what they do
In their tortured years bellow the dirt.
Once James murmured me to help them,
He said their noise was making him cold.
I told him I couldn’t
For shattered throat moans are not considered my jurisdiction.
By Eleonora Beran Jahn
Artwork by Hannah Hardy.
“Self Portrait,” Parallax Horror Contest Winner