The Death Business

By Maxwell A. Gillmer


No one looks at me anymore. A curse threatens me and my lineage now that my body is alone. I do not know why they do not find me, why I am not lying in state in private made by those who love me. I hide beneath the hull where no one can find me. I hid because I thought I needed it. I saw a small monkey once crawl into a hole under a tree. I found him the next day, his breath was gone too. There is nowhere else to go but seek protection from the hell where protection never existed in the first place. I did not intend to be forgotten with the urine and the feces and the vomit. I am not sure if they know I am here or if they think I had fallen into the dark waters. My body is no longer hot. My breath has escaped, and it is cold. In fact, I am cold. I think my body follows the rocking of the ship. Rigor mortis hasn’t yet released its grip. My eyes are closed too. Sleep would be the comfortable explanation. Sleep would be the reality I prefer. Reality no longer exists. It never did.

No one looks at my soul either. I never expected that they could — I roam the deck as a breath, escaped from the mouth that never dissipated into the atmosphere, but my breath struggles to be released. There is no place for me to be buried. There is no family who would send me to the ancestors. They have all forgotten. My family that does not know they are my family because I left too soon. The man who is my father who isn’t my father waits for me. It’s only a matter of time until he discovers where I have gone.

Read more »


Day 1: This day they bought 11 men, 6 women, and 3 girls. They bought me. I still hold onto his face.

Day 5: This day they bought 7 men, 3 women, and 4 boys. None are him.

Read more »


i am dead but i am not gone and departure is no longer in my sight because you wont let me flee or let me let myself stand up and walk across the water and i wont let you let me leave us all either because something more waits for me and for us but not you behind the veil that stole my voice and hid it away before i could catch it and hold it in my mouth but no tongue behind teeth means no words outside teeth until the tongue is no longer necessary in a world reversed by sea and words can walk freely but my words hide behind your eyes like lighting between chasms that no hands can grasp before it turns to liquid and slides out of your body like oceanwater falling from the earth into the sky where we all will be.

Read more »


Mother didn’t want me to venture onto the deck alone. Twice a day she hurried me along to the quarterdeck for me to watch the captain steer the ship, but it was never too captivating. The man smelled of dirty soap and stale clothes and was never too fond of Mother. He was always glad to see me, but I would’ve much rather explored the ship on my own.

Read more »
1-5 of 5