Sestina with Cults as a Wikihow with Pictures


Suppose I start a cult. Suppose I bet a son.

Suppose where the world ends my body begins,

Wombed away, waiting while Mother witches drug runs,

Eats the young like her scabs, and jabs pins into dead skin.

Suppose I steal the party; razors and remotes of men,

Self-portraits and pets, parents’ diseases of origin,


Grandma’s Britannica’s of addiction, next quarter’s organs.

Suppose the cult cuts a deal, buys stock in the sun.

Suppose the sun says, “God’s a zombie, swarm of rot to mend.”

Suppose Grandma rises from the dead for prescriptions. The party begins,

Where I teach men to shave, sewing a leader, I steal their skins,

Short the sun, deal dregs, and shoot the sons. Suppose I run


Away. Suppose the cops are called, and the cult’s coffers of catamites run

Old, and Mother must madness her children into checks,

Families into farms, fallow flesh, and sow sick into skin.

Suppose I bring the world to the party, set her up with the sun,

Watch from across the room as they eat each other old into beginning.

Then I guess Valerie Solanas was on to something: let’s kill all men.


Suppose I hunt myself shaving in the mirror making meat from what man’s

Still hung like a trophy inside. Suppose the cult begins running

Ads on the afterlife every Sunday, side-effects beginning

With birth, thorns, theories of genocide, fleeting feelings of original

Sin, slight to severe exodus, and the death of a first son.

Suppose I buy-in, believe enough to know suicide sells me skinny,


Buys Grandma another body, convinces the cult, skins

The party down to its puke: a house where murder is to men

As mother is to son

As cult is to a church, as running

From the man kenneled inside me is a party, originally

Another weekend out of my life that begins


Pill bottle-planchettes, because I read that every good sacrifice begins

With a virgin. Suppose I start a cult, remember to shut the skin

On the way out, am assassinated at the party. Then what origin

Supposes man

Always runs

Cult, convert, castrate back to his son.

“Sestina with Cults as a Wikihow with Pictures” by Adric Tenuta is the Poetry Winner in Columbia Journal’s 2019 Spring Contest, judged by Tommy Pico.


Photocredit: Klearchos Kapoutsis via Creative Commons

About the author

Adric Tenuta’s poems appear in Crab Fat Magazine and The Columbia Review. They are majoring in creative writing and women’s gender and sexuality studies at Emory University. You can follow them on Twitter @AdricTenuta.

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