They Say This is How the Ogres Lived

by W. Todd Kaneko

When the war breaks, you are glad
it’s not you exiled to the badlands,
where forest gives way to boneyard.

But then you wake to that rickety town
assembled by goblins. These are the days
when a man must contain a storm
in his belly, a sad song pressed
tight against his uvula.

Long are these years of men squinting
at the weather, at their reflections
fighting for broken space in broken windows.
The alleys are thick with beasts prowling
like tom cats, dusty paw prints
their only leavings of sorrow.

All that remains here are the ribs,
carnivorous spirits stolen now
from the cathedrals of night.

Your grandfather worries
for echoes of home, for that cage
that still marks him as sub-human.
He lights another cigarette, feral now
that he has nowhere to go. He sits you
on his knee and sings: boy, I can teach you
what it means to be made a monster.

W. Todd Kaneko lives and writes in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His work has appeared in Bellingham Review, Los Angeles Review, Southeast Review, Lantern Review, NANO Fiction, the Collagist, and elsewhere. He has received fellowships from Kundiman and the Kenyon Review Writer’s Workshop. He teaches at Grand Valley State University. Visit him at

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