elegy for ahsab by Liam Burke

Poem title: elegy for ahsab (Abecedarian after Diablo II) Poet name: Liam Burke Poem: Ahsab died for the last time outside Lut Gholein, his sick body slack in what might have been relief, though the dry lips cursed us to honour his last wish: “if I die again, don’t bring me back.” Thus we snuffed a well-burnt candle. Every man must do his duty, some of us far many more times than we expected to. Gone are the days when a boy could go to  his reward eating a pike in some skirmish. Diablo walks the earth. In the end, it was an insect bite that did it, just one tiny wound grown gangrenous enough to  kill. Not blades or fire or poison, not heartbreak over lost love, nor the arthritic ache of nostalgia. At the mouth of a cave we built a cairn, left his body to the sands. Not one to stand on ceremony, my partner scrounged openly in the dirt, sought the adenoidal alkaline tang of mana in potions, dug dirty fingers into the walls of empty bottles without qualm, soaked tips in sapphire tears, rubbed dregs against purple, rotting gums. We were Rathma, after all; death surrounded us, sunk in the marrow of our bones, blacked the hollows of our eyes. Those who called us necromancer had only the surface of it; under the epithet we understood every death weighting the valence of life more broadly, that capacity of mortal struggle to withstand the dominion of evil, to imagine itself xiphoidal, wielded by archangels. Ahsab understood,  you don’t ask to die just once, or even die well, only that your zeal sharpens the edge til you are extinguished. Remember him. End of poem. Credits and bio: Copyright © Liam Burke Previously published in The Daily Drunk, 2021 Liam Burke (he/him/himbo) lives in Ottawa, Canada, on unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe land. He is most recently the co-author of ‘machine dreams’ with natalie hanna (Collusion, 2021) and ‘Orbital Cultivation’ with Manahil Bandukwala (Collusion, 2021). His work has most recently appeared in Bywords, Sledgehammer Lit, Roi Fainéant, INKSOUNDS, the Daily Drunk, and Savant-Garde, and is forthcoming in Gutslut Press, Sepia Journal, and Rejection Letters.