The Tree of Bones

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He grabbed another bottle from the mini-fridge — last one in the stash. Festive or no, the beer was better. A flush erupted from the head, and Fish stumbled out, his scales a shade greener than their usual hue. The amphibian pressed his cybernetic hand to his lips and looked ready to retch again. Fish slumped against a wall near the slime-covered tree, limbs splayed in defeat.

Lars shrugged. Merriest time of the year. So long as it came with a lot of whiskey.

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Visit a chapel if you want it unabridged. Lars realized he was staring. The beer was empty. Sheila was still playing death-metal versions of Hot Cosmic Christmas classics.


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  • PILE OF BONES?

Lars felt something wet hit his beard and worried, for a moment, that Fish had gotten space-sick in the hold. Or that he was uncapping a jar of Frogsgulch jelly. He stopped short, looking at the slime on his skin. You just toss a slimeball at me? Still twinkling with holographic starlight, pentadactylic dildo wagging on its top, the sludged-up tree was rearing for attack.

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Lower branches lifted, revealing a maw of bony tentacles, each one twitching toward Fish. Slime dripped along the bones. The boughs of muck slithered closer to the fish-man, and Lars felt his knuckles begin to bend and break, reforming into claws, his whole skeleton cracking as wolf flowed through him. Zip, and the slimy tips of the tentacles clattered across the floor. Fish crawled backward, trying to stand. A bony tentacle-branch wrapped itself around his ripped pant leg, and he was dragged to the floor. He thrashed, wolf-talons scraping against the bone.

The tree was hunched in the corner of the ceiling, looking more like a skeletal anemone than a swamp tree, now that the slime had been splattered all over his cruiser. It dangled the werewolf in the air, prodding him with its myriad ossified limbs. A few twisted around his wrists, but he broke free with his wolf-strength. He kicked at the thick bone rope around his leg. No luck. How was this for a jolly holiday — no stockings, no nog, and the tree was about to gobble him down like a Christmas ham. And then he was tumbling down, hitting the ooze-spattered floor with a hard thud.

Fish was standing over him.

A Tree of Bones

The amphibian flashed his laser chainsaw and grinned. As he was hauled across the hold, his chainsaw hand whipped wildly, slicing open crates of gravy, bags of cargo netting, and a single keg of beer. The werewolf crouched.

Archaeologists find bones of man killed about 1, years ago

Lars launched himself toward the writhing bone creature. The tree tossed Fish across the hold and spread its maw. Tentacles twitched and reached, a twinkling circle of finger-teeth. Its conical top bobbled like a dunce hat of death. The tree screeched, and Lars howled, a full-on moon-drunk werewolf howl. He crashed into the first of the tentacles and kept on crashing. The teeth scraped like brambles, and he felt blood in his fur. He clawed, chewed, and wrenched, pulling bony bits out from the inside.

The tree convulsed, and tentacles grabbed for his ankles. The werewolf dodged and kept yanking.

Finally, he found what he was looking for — a thick column of gray, grinding vertebrae. The trunk. He grabbed the spine with both claws and sunk his teeth into it, chewing through bone while the tree flailed and shuddered. When at last he tasted fluid among the shards in his mouth, he felt the tree fall limp and slide down the wall, what was left of its appendages rattling against the floor. The smell of spilled beer and bone dust hung in the air, a far cry from cinnamon and evergreen.

Lars shook the slime and blood from his fur. His wounds were already healing. As his body broke back into human form, he searched the hold for Fish. If I were to predict a future Nobel Prize winner in literature, it would more than likely be Kwame Dawes. His are poems nailed into the white pages with the force of bestial silence; thick-neck poems written by a poet with hands and ear for old bones, for the shattering of breaking time, for the rituals of manhood.

Whenever I picked a new book from the shelf, I always hoped it would be exactly this.

Much Like the Rings of a Tree, Bones Reveal Biological Age in Humans

I celebrate Dawes and his achievement, and in doing so celebrate all those who have a space in his poems and all those who are able to tune into his remarkable music, intellect, and spirit. In the shadow of the Thirteenth Amendment Dawes remixes the works of August Wilson and brings lucidity to our present moment. Unafraid to trouble the waters and make clear why American race relations exist as they currently do, City of Bones sets the record straight and leaves no doubt that the past is ever present and we have not yet overcome. City of Bones should leave no question in the minds of any contemporary reader that Kwame Dawes is one of the most significant poets working today.

Because you cannot stop. He has been elected as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

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