Two Poems by Haley Byer

Photo by Grant Durr on Unsplash

Parting the Red Sea

The bog – bolbus 
berries blistering red, 
burst ripe in the late September 
sun. I, captivated, carried courage 
in my life before – carelessness. 
I returned home from the coast of 
clams to find Pa had become one 
of the ghosts of the bog. I wade through 
red water and I wait in my waders 

wondering how long it took the wolf 
spiders to eat him. Ma says that I’m wrong 
but I never trusted a wolf in spider’s clothing. 
I see them every Sunday morning now 
on Ma’s day off, as they sunder his body 
over and over like they do the flood, the cranberries, 
arachnid Moses anew, baptised 
in an American red sea. I dip in a toe and lock eyes 
with six that hang on to a crimson bulb. 
Their leathery shine dares 
me to follow, to uphold the family business, 
succumb to the arms of the vines –
God below the surface.

This post is brought to you by The Book of Jakarta

Despite being the world’s fourth largest nation – made up of over 17,000 islands – very little of Indonesian history and contemporary politics are known to outsiders. From feudal states and sultanates to a Cold War killing field and a now struggling, flawed democracy – the country’s political history, as well as its literature, defies easy explanation. Like Indonesia itself, the capital city Jakarta is a multiplicity; irreducible, unpredictable and full of surprises. Traversing the different neighbourhoods and districts, the stories gathered here attempt to capture the essence of contemporary Jakarta and its writing, as well as the ever-changing landscape of the fastest-sinking city in the world.

The Book of Jakarta is published by Comma Press

Cranberry Bog Lore

For every berry in the bog, 
there is a spirit nestled in the hollow 
where the seeds and root should clog 
a fruit – beware, for some be malevolent 
or immune to prayer.

When a tooth 
is sunken beneath bloody skin 
newly ripped from umbilical vines 
within a ripening womb, the soul escapes 
and possesses a new spider as it hatches 
from a silk thread       gape.

The spiders guard the spirits 
trapped inside of the floating fruit 
and devour those who escape through
snapped vines and squished roots, 
fangs crimson among
farmers’ rubber boots.

Spiders’ souls get hungry too
and when harvest moons rise in autumn
skies, the reapers’ songs are sung 
be they old or new. 
And when the farmers’ times are up, 
the bog is filled with cranberry blood.

About The Author

Haley Byer is a 2020 graduate of Bowling Green State University with a BFA in Creative Writing. When she isn’t writing poetry about food, bugs, or lesbian romances she can be found painting, making music and embroidering flowers. Her work has previously been published in Prairie Margins.

Bandit Fiction is an entirely not-for-profit organisation ran by passionate volunteers. We do our best to keep costs low, but we rely on the support of our readers and followers to be able to do what we do. The best way to support us is by purchasing one of our back issues. All issues are ‘pay what you want’, and all money goes directly towards paying operational costs.

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