photo of rock on the Race Track in Death Valley

The Sitting Man by Robert Cole

Mendoza admires the desert heat and sloshes up the colossal dune rim. Five days later the pyramid inverted now over the fine lake of Enoch can be made out in a silhouette transposed at sunset holy. Mendoza then kneels to eat bread for nine days. He watches the pyramid spin and siphon the lake away. He watches the vessel fail. Mendoza beholds the flood. The magi lurk. The camels sleep. News from the Caspian arrives via papyri vision. Enoch is still Enoch.

Shaman lives. Druid lives. The sky is all source. Fires are meant to circle: Reincarnation. Celebration. Squares. Stone Math. Funeral Physics. Medical Religion. It’s time to crown the drunk guy king. At midnight, mid-month, mid-moon, they inaugurate him and paint him blue, like the water, like the sky, like the water the dead float on while looking up at the sky. It’s to symbolize this mortal obligation. This ceremonial hangover. Farming. Toil. Defamation.

Invented words for made up stories. Orange juice. Pregnant women hug each other. Mendoza watches the magi sink into the sand for good. The king leads a hunt. Has the children dig for water. Has the vassals clean the stone.  Has the women protect the temple. The dune rim no longer hides the site from the heathens. Mendoza misses Damascus. A black stain rises from the red cliff. The people flee. The pyramid mistakes the stain for water. The sky eats the sand.

The sky rains sand. The heathens come. Find the tip of holy. Laugh at false story. The word myth is invented. The heathens move on. Mendoza sits still.  The sky opens up. Damascus rises. Damascus falls. Board games are made.  Soon the pregnant women hug a cell phone from the 90’s. Planes take patrons to the stone where the children whine for French fries and ice cream.  Mendoza watches from the cliff. White men buy complaints and sell weapons.

Reduce the stone to dust. Soon the world: A red exaggeration of sunset. Gelatin moonshed. Pestilent decadence. Machines guard the interior.  Damascus is no longer Damascus. Cameras hide in the sand. Sensor modules. Silicon is forged from the sand. In the sand are all the objects that were destroyed. Mendoza watches the dead sand build toys for the living. In every home, a trace of this. With the silicates come suitcases heavy with financial arrangements.

Stapled memorandums. Ammunition. The SUV replaces the camel. The cell phone from the 90’s has joined its brethren in the sands. Mendoza with his steadfast illumination watches the procedure. Coils a cloth around his face.  His first real motion in years. The air is somehow different. The churning cloudfront lust. Mendoza himself knew the first to walk with reason. He watched their cousins disperse and return only to disperse again further.

Culture seated. The Native American. The Imagawa Clan. The British Empire.  Mendoza bears witness to the strength of ancient, sabotaged stories. How gods at peace wage war through their misinformed creations. How killings break out with shorter duration but sharper definition. How man could kill man without having to hear their cries for mercy. How the silicates could buffer the guilt between the one who aims and the machine that shoots.

A soldier could only blame his commanding officer’s commanding general.  And in the sands, a trace of this. Mendoza beholds another silence. The pyramid rises again. The rain falls. The lake of Enoch emerges. Mendoza watches the unseen tide wreak havoc on a higher dimension. Mendoza does not move as the wind collects sand around him. He is swallowed whole. He becomes another man’s obstacle, an effigy that breathes where we come from.

Robert Cole is a former fiction editor for Cease, Cows and currently lives and works in Norman, Oklahoma. He is among the 2013 Nâzim Hikmet Poetry Competition winners and is featured in their annual chapbook. Robert’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Menacing Hedge, Sein und Werden, Erbacce, Willows Wept Review, THIS Literary Magazine, Thirteen Myna Birds and GlassFire. He tries to blog at Poymstuff.

Lead image:  “The Race Track” (via Flickr user Eric Bryan)