“Rules of the Zombie Apocalypse” by Todd Dillard

There is no god and her name is
bullet. Water over love, breath
over water. What I am saying is
the body is the body’s main weakness.
Upstream, never down. Uphill,
never down. Need over memory.
Want is the first sign of giving
up. In the summer months, when
heat snakes off the cracked pavement
as if to bite the sky
stay low, stay inside, be
the dark you’re terrified of.
Fall will always be the worst;
the gone are drawn to campfires,
the cobweb spell of an exhalation,
the body’s autumnal lull
to torpor. Resist the urge
to join others, to relax, to sing,
to pray, to say thanks, to realize
you hope for a tomorrow that seeks
to take your face. Winter is the best,
when the dead are frozen as statues. Time
to do some cleaning: ice pick, mallet,
the base of the neck, where your hand
used to slide up your lover’s nape
and into their tangled hair—tap, tap. Know
spring is coming when their eyes
begin to thaw, their jaws move
as if trying to recall your name
or ask for directions, about the weather.
Head north. Do not trust the life
surging around you; the earth
is the original false covenant.
Eventually you will be cornered.
Remember: there is no god and
her name is bullet. When the end is
inescapable, grasping and hungry and
full of toothy want, it is time.
Draw her heavy bible, place your trembling
finger over her single psalm,
then fall to your knees and worship her.


Todd Dillard’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous publications, including: Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Strange Horizons, Barrelhouse, Best New Poets, and Electric Literature. He is a recipient of a grant from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and his chapbook The Drowned Hymns is available from Jeanne Duval Editions.
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