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Featured Poem II • December 2013

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The Onion Prince

 

David Sklar

 
 

1. Invitation Have you ever tried peeling an onion from the inside out? You start out perfect, small and round and sweet; the onion’s core surrounds you and you eat the parts you've peeled away. You work your way to wider spaces where the skin gets drier, but the eating makes you fatter and you grow to fill the space you’ve made. By night it’s completely dark; by day the light is diffuse and all around, and the light gets ever brighter with the peeling of each layer, the light grows brighter every day on your red eyes. 2. Lament “Great god who made the Onion, answer me: My fingertips blister and under my cuticles bleed; The skin of my genitals burns: I want an answer: What will I know when I gnaw beyond this dome? Is it softer there? Will the air not cook my eyes? My fingers not need squeak on pungent walls? Creator—Lord—I am more than what you made. I know this burning vessel; know it well. And now I ask. And now I need to know: What is the World beyond the Onion’s dome?” 3. Elegy Amid baby oaks, in a vast expanse of sunlight where only a little dappled shade got through we laid out our picnic: blanket, basket, bread, blender, frying pan, oven, table, chairs, cracked an onion for our omelet—found a man completely formed inside, in suit and tie but limp like something pickled. Tiny man whose life had ended, suffocated here. We dug the smallest twig, less than a sapling, a stem with just two leaves. We laid him there, covered him over with earth, stripped the branch of bark, left it on his grave, a monument, and wept.

 

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David Sklar grew up in Michigan, where the Michipeshu nibbled his toes when Lake Superior felt frisky. His work has appeared in an eclectitude of places, including Strange Horizons, Paterson Literary Review, Ladybug, and Scheherazade’s Façade. David lives in New Jersey with his wife, their two barbarians, and a secondhand familiar. He works as a freelance writer and editor. For more, please visit http://davidwriting.com

David, who also contributed the short story “Flap” to this issue, shares the following about the origin of this poem: “In college I used to say it was immoral to eat onions, because morality is subjective, and I cry whenever I cut one. I may have been quoting Freud by way of Woody Allen.

“I wrote ‘The Onion Prince’ in college, in the early ’90s. Nobody had told me ogres were like onions, the lament of the righteous sufferer was still a thing, and the idea of finding poetry worth reading in a science fiction or fantasy magazine was still kind of laughable. It would be years before I found my way home to genre, by way of a girlfriend (now a wife) who enjoys going to SF conventions.

“The field of seedlings is a place I found while looking for something else. They were actually maples, but the rest is as I described it: trees short enough you could step on them if you weren’t careful, with bright red-orange leaves that looked way too big for the little stalks.”

 

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