Vineyard of the Curse

Alec Hershman


In my dream, Lao Tsu,
you were a caterpillar again.
I congratulated you on having
inherited a fortune by slaughter
of the lesser moths. A kind of ash
of their remains, a kind of sawdust
from browntrodden leaves.
Your new home was a chrysalis
mock-up the size of the Astrodome,
although to human eyes it was just
the tube interior from a skein
of paper-towels. In the months
hung silky in a dream of your own,
I remarried, and so sent my new wife
to throw flowers at your prevalence.
She thanks you kindly for the gift
of earrings: two pupal vessels: one
a quiver for a score of pine-needle arrows,
and the other a kind of pitcher filled
with the dust of civilian ashes.
I should mention, too, that they make
no noise, unlike the string of bangles
she used to wear, and this is how,
one night, when often I’d feign sleep
to avoid having sex, she caught me
unaware, and so on the ultrasound,
Lao Tsu, I know great things are possible—
crackling in the amniotic black-
and-white, your Godchild gathers
like a new shade in the ocean.



Alec Hershman is the author of Permanent and Wonderful Storage (Seven Kitchens Press, 2019), winner of the Robin Becker Chapbook Prize and The Egg Goes Under (Seven Kitchens Press, 2017). He has received awards from the KHN Center for the Arts, The Jentel Foundation, Playa, The Virginia Creative Center for the Arts, and The Institute for Sustainable Living, Art, and Natural Design. He lives in Michigan where he teaches writing and literature to college students. You can learn more at