thirty               

            Two pairs of wrists, two pairs of ankles (sausage-like, cinched by thongs, nerve-ends insensate) rot at eight short stakes by which their hosts are pinioned. Two pairs of muscled legs (in homespun trousers worn and stretched-out at the seams) can no longer walk. Two torsos (stripped and criss­crossed with welts, ribs jutting, bellies bloated) bask with solar plexuses tilted toward the red-eyed sun. Two heads lie blind, each surrendering sight to organ-gorging scavengers (ants, assorted maggots, and a plethora of flies). Two men lie dead. Nearby, Zachary Squire bears silent witness.

            I did not order this. Punishment was due. But I did not order this.

            He swallows to suppress his nauseous indignation.