The Masticating Dead



Deep in the earth, they chew 
their nails to points, scratching at 
the casket’s inner cloth.  They 
are hungry—the dead—starving 
for lives they left behind, people 
who should be in their place. 
For some, it is revenge.  Black bile 
bubbling at their lips, forced by some slip 
of fate or their loved one’s hands 
around their necks.  For others, it is the love 
they lost that compels them to keep 
clawing, to gnaw their way up through 
coffin and earth, to reclaim their hearts.  Some 
we call vampires, others, zombies. 
Still, there are others, the dead that grind 
their own teeth together, wondering 
what they did to deserve this purgatorial 
plot of hell on earth—what did they forget 
that would set them free?