Anubis 1 by James Vu

I set myself a bath.

Yes, men sometimes bathe.

When I light my cigarette, Anubis appears on the toilet seat. The light in the room changes—my eyes water in insect mosaics as pitch-black paint whisks along the cracking walls.

The water jigsaw puddles in blue and white, like glass over a cotton candy sky.

Put your face under, he says.

If it was the sea, then we’ve lost so much time and have seen so little.

His laugh isn’t exactly pleasant (it somehow darkens the room and makes my blood warm), but he tells me his favorite jokes, and shows me his collection of favorite ancient and post-industrial weapons.

The best ones are the guns we’ll never get to use. Just some prototypes, he says.

Then, all the pictures of his favorite demonic women, modest and nude. Mostly platonic, he says.

Those are the women we want most.

He smiles coyly, his teeth sharper and whiter than anything you’ve ever seen.

Anubis loves cigarettes, but he only smokes with me because he’s trying to quit. He has a confession:

“I’ve built every single crypt, blinding my vision of every face. It was my end of the bargain. I just want letters from the people I have known:

What the weather is like, how quiet the whispers are when they lay in the grass, or how the wind treats their faces when they’re up in the mountains…

the smell of smoked meat in the summer, and how the sun looks and feels day-to-day. I never got a letter, but I think it’s because they don’t know what to write.

It doesn’t have to be a tome or a tomb.”

In this sea of blue and white bath water, Anubis washes away in the still-dark, a Nile of every star surrounding the scarred, sacred moon.

The moon before all the buildings, streetlights and people. The one that cared for the animals.

With my shadow further from me than before

I rinse off,  I’ll only feel clean momentarily.


James Vu is a languid Californian keeping Portland weird. He is a comic book author and (currently not) paying the bills with a McJob. James Vu loves you and the Lakers. He used to love opiates. James Vu is taller than you and can cook. He just had a poem published in The Pointed Circle and will have a poem published in The Bookends Review in October.

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