“The Refusal” by Lock Howe

I’ve shattered, haven’t I? 
Slivers of me scattered 
across the soft sable of the night sky. 				I drift
in the endless mirrored sea 
surrounded by reflected incarnations
of myself so that I feel less 	alone. 	I’ve always been the Lord, 
the Hunter and the Prey, the bow
taut, arrow gleaming- 
the running stag. I’ve been sacrificed 
so many times the knife is stuck fast in my ribs. You call me the Devil, 
but I was   Christ on the Cross	and	Longinus with the Lance. 
                  I’ve known worship 
I’ve been feared and thanked but not
loved. Yet, all I have done has been for the love a hunter 
Feels for the deer 
that feeds his family. To provide 
is to love
but I suppose it doesn’t guarantee
I can’t pinpoint when I stopped being a god 
and became a
Thing. A shadow 
in tattered robes, bloody feathers. 
The one you worship
is not me. Your prayers, dry- brittle- and fall-
autumn leaves unheeded. I shed my skin, my ears. My eyes 
fall into the orbits of my skull. My tongue 
rots, my only speech the 
of old bones, 
the carapace 
of a twitching beetle. Moss grows on my antlers. 
I Refuse to run. I Refuse
to hunt. If I remain dead,
I will not have to die.

Lock Howe grew up in rural Tennessee in a conservative, Baptist area. Raised atheist and liberal, Lock struggled with feelings of isolation and confusion, themes that are prominent in their writing. After high school, they studied creative writing at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina, where they had two pieces published in the college literary journal. Still living in Southern Appalachia, Lock is constantly inspired by nature. As they have delved into their own spirituality, separate from atheism or Christianity, and investigated their own gender identity, they have translated this into writing.

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One thought on ““The Refusal” by Lock Howe

  1. This piece is haunting and masterful! I read it the other day but had to come back to leave this comment. Absolutely gorgeous work, I’ve shared it with everyone I know who likes poetry.

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