by John M. Gist

Published in Issue No. 224 ~ January, 2016

Apple cored rectangular, knife cut, motionless on the desert earth, stem protruding from an indentation in the golden crown like the lone hair of a cowlick pointing, at last, in the proper direction. White meat of fruit oxidizes in swollen heat.

I pitched the litter aware that the infraction, violation, might attract unwanted animals to conical cluster of kuti huts—coyote, coatimundi, vulture, and ant—undermining the sanguine soteriological intent of the sangha.

The taste of the apple still tart at tip of tongue, over a barbed wire fence I tossed the trash, pome arcing over words painted in highway yellow across rectangular metal sign: NO TRESPASSING.

No return.


Plying black through misty-clouded blue, the raven, I pray, might spy the morsel and descend from on high to grant me, sinner, absolution; sacred trust of the Zen Master re-hinged by a bird carrying off the offering, apple flesh not burnt but burning in reckoning light.

Bones crepitating to stroke of wing, raven circles, cackles caw call, is swallowed by sky. A whirl of wind spins dust, winds earth toward heavens. Bright heat tunnels through the top of my skull to blear mind of matter.

I look here then there; they are not two—dehydrated desert dotted by mesquite and jumping cholla—and the apple has abruptly absconded, like a fleck of dust dissolved in a tear-blurred eye, digested by that which birthed it.

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John M. Gist's creative nonfiction, short stories, and poems have/will appeared in publications such as Poetry Pacific, Stoneboat, Dr. T.J Eckleburg Review, Superstition Review, Gravel, Pithead Chapel, Prick of the Spindle, Left Curve, Academic Questions, New Mexico Magazine and others. He was awarded runner-up in South Loop Review's 2014 National Essay Contest judged by David Shields and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He recently was named finalist in the 2015 Tucson Book Festival Literary Awards. With an M.F.A from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, he teaches creative writing at sunny Western New Mexico University.