Acid and Styrofoam

On his father’s custody weekends, the stingrays

Navie caught were sport and span, time-killing.

Navie’s father enjoyed fish and motorboats.

After seeing Philipino women cutting the wings

off stingrays with slitknives, pierside, Navie

didn’t want to fish them, sport or span.

Navie’s dad voided fishing to consider him

basking in a Stellacoom flat amidst roaches,

in one room, and no wider than its parking space.

“Come here.” Navie did. Sunday. The sink.

“Do you know what I’ve got in this bottle?”

Navie didn’t, but it bore a tape label

with his dad’s fractious handwriting:


“This is B-tetrasulformic acid. It’s dangerous.

I’m not kidding. Don’t ever play with this

or what’s in it. But, I do want to show you

something cool, so watch what it does."

Navie’s dad had an awful back from working,

and so had weekends open. Navie’s weekends.

Navie’s dad also used B-tetrasulformic acid

at work to do things with steel and color.

“Now. Watch the cup.”

He poured the acid into the styrofoam,

quarter-inch deep.

“Watch—“ Burned. Devoured. The acid

dissolved the cup, drizzling into the sink

where it began to fizz and smoke.

Navie reached into the sink but


pulled his hand back, slowly growing up,

dreaming of having his own bottle

of B-tetrasulformic acid.

Styrofoam would remind him easy.


Navie’s son was old enough to fish,

and hadn’t seen Philipino women cutting

the wings from dragged-in stingrays.

They went out and fished from a pier often,

above hollow, cold water. Caught little.

They talked about his grandfather often.

Navie’s dad had been burned. Devoured.

The terrible back medications and various

others had eaten through his liver

and taken that dad. Navie’s dad,

and when it happened, Navie

suddenly wanted to fish, to live

in a Stellacoom flat. To show his own son

what the liquid in the bottle could do.

Strangely, he’d forgotten the name.

How strange. What was it called?

Navie’s son drank juice from a styrofoam cup,

while Navie stared at its base and wondered.


This Grendel and Its Sparks


He called from wine and

had lost the job and his compensation case—

it was common in his tumblers

to question our fair outcome,

his sons,

and usual to profess his love,

yes, my father night-calling drunk.


“Things will turn around.” I clichéd.

He was somber then.

“You know how it all works,” I reacted,

and his call ended, and I played with

my baby son, stayed wily until I slept.


By morning he was dead, my father.

It rang my hands from my body.

Things will turn around?


I prattled at the mirror for his traces,

but found only the look of an automaton.

I forced crying and felt some of it.

Days brought rites and relatives; 

I was shut. 


The staring Grendel was fiction,

but I was sensationless real,

and guilty of having never

died a bit at all.

It was all so dry, death.  Blink.  End.

Mine would arrive in time.  Blink.


I was a kind of man

with the creeping sadness

that could only come much later.

Itinerant Malady

Today, near, masts,

the coughers on these sails.

Hello, they say and I wave

hello and they’ve

spake up their lungs

atop the world of illness,

and do now, sadly sick everyone—


Mouths fault upturned,

fraught with contractions and

coughs coughing pained hacks,

slumped in chairs, the matter

expelled and still, the flu



Illness and injury are historical.

Barbers with catlings,

surgeons with clay bowls,

medicos with flapping texts,

the need of a patient.


My hours here, in a day-off town

one day drive from my grounds,

know I am not sick, but a

cat-headed woman nearby is

shaking from the vehement coughs

come up her chest and throat.


I scan for my own cough,

find plain air, and begin

to chirp, stood deep in my chest,

laughing my temporary laugh,

far in as my very beating heart.

Appearances Roundabout


Wet widow, follow him, the absent, savvy demon,

where only one moment ago he achieved—

into a mountain, follow inside, and it is certain to

host you as by confessional booth.


When the sun is still high, and there

above buildings, a howl crooking through light bits,

I note the moon out,

daylight and moonlight beamed opposing,

moon without nightfall, rained through, isolated.


When the demon rolls his fire down and numbs

the sky with absence, widow,

follow him on the assurance of sharing

where the season chronicles

a human year end.


Ray Succre currently lives on the southern Oregon coast with his wife and baby son.  He has been published in Aesthetica, BlazeVOX, and Pank, as well as in numerous others across as many countries.  His novel Tatterdemalion was recently released in print and is available most places.  He tries hard.

For inquiry, publication history, and information, visit me online:

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