Storyglossia Issue 47, August 2012.


by Lam Pham


A Basic Understanding of God and How He Holds Nothing Dear


We live in a tree overlooking a beach strewn with bones. They are not clean, wrapped in seaweed and oil with minute messages carved alongside their length in looping cursive: "Help me, O Lord," "Please, don't let me die like this," "Give me courage, give me grace," "Fuck you." Last week, you thought they were hoaxes, morbid jokes tossed into the ocean by juvenile grave robbers hopped up on amphetamines. We did that once, robbed graves. You licked your mother's mandible, insisted you could taste her cancer, acrid like a battery. It felt bold and craven at the same time.


Mussels and Muscles


A basket of sea life split open like my legs, butterflied chicken, parted hair. I imagine you dripping oil on your torso and my fingers bowed into little measuring spoons below your navel, collecting. You are the width to the length of my shadow, together we are a broadsword chopping swaths through broken parks in forgotten cities. Hold me again, tell me your branch-like arms and the swell of your chest mean less than life elsewhere. I won't believe you. I believe in you.




I will break all the doors in your house, stack them on the roof of my car and ride into the desert. Call the police. Chase my tracks across the spine of the Midwest and remember to smile when your wife stops to take a picture. I'll be waiting in the old quarry with squirrels in the freezer and your list of grievances in my pocket. But take care, there will be traps. The moon will trick you into talking about my grandfather. People used to tell us we have the same eyes. It's not true. We have identical cocks. They're twins: the curvature leaning to the right, a roadmap of veins starting and stopping at the same destinations. Girthy. I will answer if you ask me how I know this. I won't be kind.


The different parts of my heart are not divided into separate spaces. There is only one chamber. I check in periodically to restock the pantry, replace the galvanized pipes, spread out weed blocker. My front door is still missing and none of yours fit. All of the previous tenants have left something behind: toenail clippings shaped in the bathtub, a water-damaged copy of Woman Warrior, a burnt Polaroid curled into an ashen fist on the pillow. You didn't stay long enough to leave something behind; you were never on the lease. But I've been late on my mortgage payments and if you don't come soon, the bank will foreclose it for good.


We will drown elsewhere, but arrive in the same lake. Your socks will match, mine are misshapen, different sizes, clashing colors. The indigenous will find us face down suffocated in their fishing nets, identical.

Copyright©2012 Lam Pham

Lam Pham was born in Midland, Texas. He blames his birthplace for his affection for bleak spaces and quiet struggles. Currently, he is an MFA candidate at the University of Wyoming. His fiction has appeared in Mud Luscious Press, JMWW, apt, Fractured West, The Good Men Project Magazine, Foundling Review and more.