Numbers and Molehills, by Sean Ball

1. Molehills:
He had a wife and children.
He had a mortgage.
He had all of the elements of a life well lived*.
But he found a shovel one day, and an agreeable patch of earth.
So he dug himself a hole, and he kept digging, he dug until the crows came home,
dug until the cows punched their cards, dug until the sun was little more than a bad memory.

His wife and children called down, barking the
need to tend the fence, the lawn needed mowing, the hedges needed surgery, but he was deaf to them.
He dug, and he dug, and he dug.
A metronome of dirt and effort.
He dirtied his elbows, his pants, his face, until there was no distinction between the soil and his soul.
And he muttered.
He muttered until the moon
danced through all of its phases, until the sun decided to hide in extinction for a while, until the clouds lost the strength to part. A mantra, born of captivity and clay
“I haven’t reached the bottom until I stop digging.”
And so he dug.

2. The Long Shadow

And he never taketh away.
Him what casts the long shadow.
Broken barreled, thrice pierced Jesu.
Possessed of singular commandment that love is the law,
dressed with iron,
big iron,
cold iron.

Him of the pale face, and the crooked nose.
Him what presaged, and gave occasion to the host of lions,
all hobbled and mewling,
made stranger to their very natures,
endlessly crawling to Bethlehem what never was.

Smoke is his name,
for the heavens were forged with birdshot and slugs,
the sound of the work,
the sound of the firmament,
was the roar of a gun.

Angels perch and bellow on the lips of every hot barrel,
come to sing a song of extinction,
given crown and cup,
a song of dusty towns,
made red by the right hand of the traveler on the spur of the lord.
A song oft heard.
Him what casts the long shadow, and his posse of 12,
self possessed,
bathed in light and marching through and ever after the twilight,
till the word hath no more meaning than the breath
what is absent to birth it.

3. Apostle
And he was armed with something rotten, an old revolver, half loaded and a head crazy with a guttering fire fed by whiskey and other kindred spirits.
The road claimed a hill in either direction and he found himself fumbling through a dog eared bible hunting for the part about leviathan.

This town is where most people found religion, they would crawl in on their bellies like doomed rats, chasing the hopeful end of a flood and walk out on their feet cruciform buzzing around their necks from dirty shoe laces, like sick bees.

The night chirped with the clink of rosary beads as people counted their penance, safe under roofs, in the belly of a chapel, or genuflecting in the saloon. A lazy version of Harlem nocturne played on the piano, outside of its time, and the carbuncle moon bore witness to it all.

He came here looking for religion, all he found was some whiskey and a gun.


Sean Ball is a graduate of the University of North Texas. He enjoys long walks on the [Noun] and aspires to one day be (a/an) [Noun] His primary passions are concerned with [Verb], [verb] and [verb]. He has owned many pens in his lifetime, and is a vocal advocate of dogs, and select water fowl.


Sean Ball

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