When the Monsters Look Just Like Us

When the Monsters Look Just Like Us
by Jim Elledge

“The monster is a category that is not bound by classificatory structurations,
least of all one as messy and inadequate as time.” —Jeffrey Jerome Cohen


We counted the dead by fives,
reached ten thousand
in a matter of hours and, exhausted,
left crowds untallied, their faces
full of grin and maggots.
Lightning lit our way that night. Rain
rinsed stench and blood
off our skin. Here and there, a fire
had lit itself, and we warmed
our chill against its heat.
We slept in its halo,
sure its light protected, too, while
hounds distantly howled.
We hoped—no, we fucking
prayed—its light protected, too.

***

Jim Elledge's most recent books are the collection Tapping My Arm for a Vein and the biography Henry Darger, Throwaway Boy: The Tragic Life of an Outsider Artist. He’s been awarded two Lambda Literary Awards, the first for his book-length poem A History of My Tattoo (2006) and the second for Who’s Yer Daddy? Gay Writers Celebrate Their Mentors and Forerunners (2014), which he co-edited with David Groff. He lives in Atlanta.