–Prophet, beheaded by King Herod, Circa 30
smelling of garlic he comes to me and he is lank with long hands and I rejoice that he enjoys his food and that in my own mouth there was only the bitter crunch of locust and the sour berry and the cloying of wild honey as I waited for him and I draw my face close to his mouth as I hold him in my arms to smell his very breath and I feel the hardness of his back and his hand curls up to cup my elbow angled by his side I pull that arm closer laying it along his body feeling his ribs and the Jordan rushes about us the fish rubbing at my legs like hungry dogs and I am hungry too and I would rub against him, my Lord my face of God, his eyes dark and narrowing at me as I hesitate to press him under and he whispers to me John you must do this and my mouth would speak but it is so close to his now and I lift him slightly toward me this man I have waited for all my life, waited to kiss, thinking it would be his feet but now I would have him open his mouth and devour me take me in his mouth and let me disappear into his very flesh and I would be sweet to his taste I am certain and he says John
–reprinted with permission from the author
Robert Olen Butler has published twelve novels—The Alleys of Eden, Sun Dogs, Countrymen of Bones, On Distant Ground, Wabash, The Deuce, They Whisper, The Deep Green Sea, Mr. Spaceman, Fair Warning, Hell and (forthcoming this August) A Small Hotel—and six volumes of short fiction—Tabloid Dreams, Had a Good Time, Severance, Intercourse, Weegee Stories, and A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, which won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Butler has published a volume of his lectures on the creative process, From Where You Dream, edited with an introduction by Janet Burroway.