Sour Taste

flooding the bog to pop the cranberries
off the bushes; the water as we imagine it
is a collection of frigid razor blades
and concave singing bowls.
every year the woodland noises sound
more and more like commercials
for tough cars and soothing nighttime products,
sedative toys stapled to animal frequencies.

the wet chlorophyll of the mosses
has a certain smell, sadder with each occurrence.
we yearn for the days when we were merely paranoid
and not correct to be afraid of ourselves.
in our memories, the innocent shape of the world
remains visible beneath the sheet of conspiracies
we’ve draped over it. we can see the outlines
of the trees and the birds that sit on their branches
slumbering peacefully in the fabricated night.

sometimes we look at the domain straight on
and call it the other or the hosted spirit.
and sometimes we look at it from an angle and see
ghosts that have risen from bodyless machinations
to shake us down for atmosphere and explain to us
the bright red ripples of cranberry in the water.

the advertised life is an adventure through illusions.
if the heart were lifted from our chests and saddled
it would be a weeping brain. if bureaucracy had a heart,
it would be a pile of shit with a white flag in it.
in the bosom of nature, marketing is the hand that ties us
together at the shoelaces. out of the bog, the bodyless
rise to sell us flood insurance.

Philip Jason’s stories can be found in magazines such as Prairie Schooner, The Pinch, Mid-American Review, Ninth Letter, and J Journal; his poetry in Spillway, Lake Effect, Canary and Summerset Review. He is a recipient of the Henfield Prize in Fiction. For more information, please visit

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