Howl

After viewing “The Scream” by Edvard Munch

 


Dying comes fast or slow—an ice pick
in the back or a chronic headache. Quick
or dawdling, still a thief in soft-souled shoes.

Lips part, torque into a scream
but where is the sound? We are deaf

to death, gulping like a fish swallowing
Jonah whole, eaten alive by fear.
I decode the language of silence,

conjugating time to the pluperfect past.
We give up this existence with keening

like a wolf moved by the moon
to bay a love song in the key of C minor,
every note a eulogy to yesterday.

— Ann Thornfield-Long

Ann Thornfield-Long, a co-author of Tennessee Women of Vision and Courage (edited by Crawford and Smiley, 2013), has poetry appearing/forthcoming in Artemis Journal, Riddled with Arrows, Silver BladeAbyss & Apex, The Tennessee Magazine, Wordgathering, Liquid Imagination and other publications. She won the Patricia Boatner Fiction Award (Tennessee Mountain Writers, 2017) for her novel excerpt “The Crying Room” and was a finalist for her fiction in the 2017 Chattanooga Writers’ Guild Spring Contest. She was nominated for the Pushcart and Rhysling awards, and awarded a 2017 Weymouth residency. She edited and published a weekly newspaper for six years. She’s a retired nurse and medical first responder.

Editor’s Notes: The painting by Munch depicts visual horror, which goes well with “Howl.” even the distorted scream can be imagined as a howl.

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