“The Spilliad” And Other Poems by Colin Dodds

(The Spilliad)

Sing to me o muse
of the rage of Spill-O

.

It may end with a void-chewed shade
(great maybe among the dead)
lamenting the probably predetermined
But it starts simply:
To be insulted and to stay that way

.

Recruited from nonexistence
to be that most ancient of creatures—
a man with no natural allies

.

They said there was a war on
But something else seemed to be the case
He dragged his priceless carcass in rough rings
around the dark fortress of folly his hometown had become
for a king who steals what won’t be sacrificed

.

Spill-O smiled the smile of a man about to be sued
half for what he did, half for his attitude

.

And retreated to his tents to try to ignore the screams—
a real candle-that-commands-the-wind bachelor type
with mustard stains on his regal underwear
This was of course before the recession
when he could still afford the rent
on such feelings
.

Pretending to hear in adulthood’s admonitions
something other than a rush-hour circuit
back to the condition of his parents
he found a place to manifest—
preferably near a subway

.

And one morning Spill-O broke his own strike
surfacing with borrowed ironic armor,
resigned that all his stupid solemn oaths
still stood

(The Gilded Age of Spill-O)

On the spiteful day
his nation replaced a prayer with an elevator pitch
a social contract with a business plan
and manifest destiny with a race to the bottom,
Spill-O on furlough from who-knows
held his IPO

.

The suckers—
abandoned by industry obsessed with buried treasure
gambling to mask expanding chasms of anhedonia
—sprang from the air

.

I have this great idea for a human being
he said, impersonating reality

.

Between sheetrock stack and charity bin
he pitched a bait-and-switch by which
the treacherous verities of the human heart
could shake the shekels from the crucified

.

And so His Fortune bloomed loomed
was murdered, buried and exhumed
dismembered then resurrected
according to the playground laws
of a sloppy mythology

.

The only care he learned on the twisting journey
from dinner to diner and back
was to keep the blood from touching the money

.

I have this great idea for a human being, he said
but probably didn’t

.

And like most scenes cast in gold
the story of Spill-O the CEO
never exactly added up

 (The Unthinkable’s Pitch to Spill-O)

Wakefulness a wound inflicted by whoknows
a slow road to pure murk
Spill-O overfed his nemesis and his nemesis grew
indistinguishable from the earth

.

to sing the sky-sealing logic of suicide:
Death is the last best chance for survival

.

Forgiveness lost its meaning and its utility

.

The unthinkable spread—a sea darkly exalting
that woman dressed in skulls like his own
whose attraction exceeds
every consolation of nature

.

In her sight Spill-O blurred to etcetera
as if something so ancient
and convoluted as life on earth
could be so easily shirked

(Spill-O Dons the Jackal Head)

He too had puzzled
over the sarcophagi the strange paths
laid out for the dead

.

He too had worn helmets for sport
and been commanded to make a beast of himself
He too had wondered what
assassins wait in his afternoon blood

.

Healthy ones cluster unwondering
in the muddy flow of time glutted on the gore
greater predators wouldn’t get out of bed for

.

On the edges of vision
Spill-O sniffs the odds and ends
that hated or were hated by the sun

.

He warms himself in dreams revelations
plain as day but diligently ignored
like a fat man ignores chest pains

.

Jackal-headed he waits for the eventual lapse
blink of sun, break of breath
to play his own soul’s oldest enemy

.

Uncanny from having fed on its scraps
Spill-O knows that soul despises it
and is still famished

(Spill-O Lands)

Floating into Florence, jet windows dip eye-level
with cupolas crenellated towers and tangled traffic lights
all so gorgeous that Spill-O wonders tearily
how the residents can stand it

.

The voice that narrates the near-crash
among the spires wires and statues replies:

.

People can get used to anything.
And they get used to beauty faster than anything.
But what you get used to, you get used by.
Finally, nothing makes you happy
but what you truly don’t deserve.

.

Passenger Spill-O too disarmed by awe to argue
gazes out, hopes his gratitude might matter
prays the transformation will stick


Colin Dodds grew up in Massachusetts and completed his education in New York City. He’s the author of several novels, including WINDFALL and The Last Bad Job, which the late Norman Mailer touted as showing “something that very few writers have; a species of inner talent that owes very little to other people.” Dodds’ screenplay, Refreshment, was named a semi-finalist in the 2010 American Zoetrope Contest. His poetry has appeared in more than a hundred eighty publications, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. The poet and songwriter David Berman (Silver Jews, Actual Air) said of Dodds’ work: “These are very good poems. For moments I could even feel the old feelings when I read them.” Colin lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife Samantha. You can find more of his work at thecolindodds.com.