It Hit Me Too Hard
I opened my mouth wide,
as if to yawn.
Instead, I released a primal yell and –
first-class –
a burning fury and perpetual.
I was standing in the wheeze of judgment.
The palisades surrounding me expanded and contracted –
acting as my heart beat.
Spirit smelled of musk and after shave.
The scream was still circling my head.
Shutting my trap, it lingered.
An echo,
like a cave’s call back preserving my voice,
a mosquito in amber.
Humans in the room hear it endlessly.
They will, at least, remember the man screaming-
in the foyer at the dentist.


I didn’t know what I was expecting
                  stepping down into the trash compactor.
They told me to lie in the direction I preferred –
                  parallel or perpendicular to the side walls.
The sides of the machine only moved in,
                  and when I was in, they wouldn’t
                  let me leave. The glass viewing screen
                  would remain closed. I would
                  suffocate or be crushed. I would be

                  crushed first.
They asked me to please think of my family
                  and the choice that I had made,
                  told me that I might soon feel better,
                  more sizable, compact.
I had a four percent chance of living,
                  and if I did survive, I would

                   fit into my brother’s t-shirt pocket,
                  where he kept his Camel Wides –
                  and in that instance, I would then
                  be occupying that space.
And the glass canopy slammed shut –
                 almost decapitating me,
                 because I had not made a choice
                  as to which direction I would lie,
                  but I chose to lie parallel to the sides
                  with my elbows pointed east
                  and west.
Sitting in the bleachers, I could see my friends
                  and my family, those I had thought
                  of when I was lying down, staring in
                  with grins that I had no way of
                  understanding. I thought that they,

                  especially they, would be horrified
                  at my choosing to perform this stunt.
I’m just glad I kept my eyes open and forward as the machine crushed my feet into my chin
into my, into the top of my skull.
I was one of the four percent, and I’m currently living in my brother’s t-shirt pocket where his Camels used to be.


Eric K. Larsh is a student and full-time worker living in Las Vegas, NV. He is the co-founder of ZeitHaus Lit and is currently serving as its poetry editor. 




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Cover photo: Joana Coccarelli (h