“Crocodile” by Richard Wirick


The cayman that’s behind you
makes no noise before he kills.
He breaks your curious neck
with the flat of his five foot
bird-thin jaws
and drags you to a thatch of
half-sunk mangrove roots in
the rapids’ whirlpool path,
so hair and clothes drift off
the flesh, that roasts by turns
of its own weight in the heavy
wall of sun and steaming air.
A week, two weeks of eating
for its squirming, owl-eyed,
white and hungry young.
What’s left of you are what
the Anu call the ‘forest’s
cracked spines and clutching
metacarpals, sodden, water-
logged, but still bleach-bright
in the blackest branches.



Richard Wirick has published his fiction, essays and journalism in Quarterly West, Northwest Review, Playboy, Another Chicago Magazine, Indiana Review and elsewhere. He is completing a collection of short stories, Fables of Rescue, and is co-founder and editor of the journal Transformation. Telegram Books recently published a collection of his prose poems, One Hundred Siberian Postcards, which grew out of his assignments in Ukraine and Siberia in 2003-5, and his adoption of a Siberian daughter. He practises law in Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife and three children.