The House of Relish

Hunter Gagnon

Ryan Grossman

HE said life consumes itself. With relish. And what does it mean to relish? Dog dancing? With a treat on its skull? Juice? Of squatting fly? Think it. Askers. HE had told. HE had told and came answers. That burst. That passed our teeth. Swam in our bellies. No description to your face. Death mask. HE warned us. The life in denial. Toward self-consumption. Toward relish. That enemy. Blank nasty face. Death face. HE explained death is submitting. To self-negation. Opposed to relish. To relish is. To relish is your own scaly ribbed tail. Gripped. Salty. In your own strong teeth. And chewed. And swallowed. There are no laws for him. Rain clouds high fists. Waves cliffsnapping kindle fire. No hypnosis. Clinical degradation. From your death face. Why do your hands even move?

Your words. I’m interrogated. But you can’t ask. Not an asker. Hand me the crystal. I’ll tell you of God’s gingivitis.

Relish is never being caught. Running alone. To an alone night place. Between sharpsticked trees. Uncoiling. Your long tail. From its hidden pouch. That first taste. Beef jerky. Venison. Salt. Thirteen years old. By fourteen those. Those friends I ran with. Gone. But I dreamed all this.

Inadmissible? For what? Flat system? Innocence? Fourteen years old. I dreamed this. After friends gone. Now and before. Dream ran in black column trees. Saw orange lights between them. Went. It was a house. The night house. Filled with hot glimmer. The divine pair. Me ordained. To issue union. Then HE. In the roofbright. Raised my heart like a star.

Your words. Crime scene. Your words. Murder two counts. You debase yourself. Your tongue is lifeless sand. Why does it even curl? There. In the dim pink. Your jaws. I’ll repeat no more.



I’ll help with the investigation if I can.

A Tuesday. She was at the shop with me. Which you know. This time near Christmas it’s very busy. I had customers all around and she didn’t help. I can be understanding. She looked at the ocean out the window. I was surrounded and distracted by the usual old men wanting their New York Times. Right now.

What kind of details? Pipe organ sounds. It was the shop playlist. Chocolate smeared wrapper curled like a dead flower on a red book. Unused incense with gold stars on the wood. A dusty dish engraved with metal flowers. She brought these in on a tray. The tray had red and blue ceramic tiles. Green wax from melted candles.

Oh, those kind. She said he was coming across the ocean. He. The king. She called him that when we talked in the backroom and I observed her strange tray. Strange in my opinion. Estimation. He is some man, I took this talk to mean. I had turned to go because customers were ringing the bell but she went on. It was stuff I couldn’t understand. Stuff about the true shape of the earth. That rainbows live in his neck. Honestly. No point remembering this.

Ok well, what is remembered. She said there are emeralds on his chariot. Words won’t come from his mouth. When he flies over town. She said what will come from his mouth is white smoke. It will pour from his tongue.

Then what can help? I saw the burned house. And that boy. I and several others want nothing more than justice here. I’ll assist the investigation if I can.



It’s very accommodating of you to meet us out here, but I think it’s on your way. I mean to the burning zone. Any update on maybe smoke reduction?

No we’ve loved this spot, disregarding murder and pyromania. We used to live in town actually. This was a good change for us. We were always creeped out in town. Well I was. At 3am I’d hear feet in the gravel outside our ground-floor bedroom window. I couldn’t sleep, which made me very critical in the morning. We yelled at each other all the time.

So the night you’re asking about we were on this porch after certain events. I remember the night perfectly. I was filled with primitive chemicals.

Because we had just killed a rat. Well a rat got caught in this big plastic toothed trap that kills them instantly. A wonderful purchase. Usually. The rat had reached in with its little rat hand. So it was screaming and dragging this big black trap around the kitchen floor. There was an excrement trail. She had a hammer and kept missing the head. I tried and kept missing too. She finally got it. There was blood everywhere and splintered rat teeth and…

Well so tired out from all this and bleaching and wiping we came out to the porch here. Totally dark. I then heard footsteps running. Up the street that was partly luminous behind pitch black trunks and berry vines. Then it went past. A human-like shape.

Okay. The woman. Her. Who’s dead now. I swear she held a torch. I swear its handle was made of gold. It was shining unlike anything I’ve seen in my life. Our lives.

Well we talked about how we love each other. Then up in the woods the fire started.



No I’m not surprised you’re talking to me or that I’m credible. I know what this town is like. I shot a hole in my ex-husband’s ceiling with my four year old son sitting on the couch, malnourished, that’s pretty much how you folks found us, and still I hold an administrative position at the municipal office. Maybe even it was you?

Who found us. But I found him. Since you ask. I walk at night and I like going where the branches are thick. I like crashing through like a bear. These are the woods. I don’t expect the boy lying there wiped out. But I wasn’t surprised.

Knew he was dead. It’s been building for a while. In general. All the worrying I hear and there’s a blade swinging in. Through the world. Through history. It’s begun to cut.

I don’t know why. I’m getting all confessional with you. Something about your face is like stone. I have an early memory of a vision where the kids say “stone cold” and me, another kid, sees in dream sight this face made of stone planted on a mountainside while beneath it on the plain there’s a battle, red smoke fires lifting like arms, soldier men slowly moving at each other to bring death, just little purple dust clouds, and the stone ice cold face with like monkey ears? And sort of fangs? Looks down at it all.

I’m saying that’s how you look. You remind me of that whole mountain. That whole desert. And all that happens on it. That’s happening here. In the woods. In spirit. The red arm of the blood fire lifting. You watch it all from the cold slope with the stars behind you.

I’m saying it must be easy.



Listen now, what grows in the barren place? Why is erasure surprising? I’ve talked to her. May she rest in peace. Listen, the frost has rainbows too.

You’re really going to pretend there isn’t something not being said here?

I know all that but I also know what it’s like to not have your purpose understood. Yesterday, in the street, a certain codger yelled at me “You scumbag! Facebook tragedy pornographer!” I walked on. I’m a freelance journalist. I employ social media. I consider it a noble profession, as I’m sure you do yours. I consider you noble. We both ask questions. We are brothers.

Of course there’s clearly an element of mass hallucination, drug abuse. This is a rural area.

But do you know what I saw? The part you hide. And what kind of language is that for the boy? “Death by forced application.” Of what, brother? And three human beings. The boy in the snow, the woman in the fire “burned up,” and the psycho you’re holding. Three.

Well that could be true enough and a lot of evidence is melted now or burned away, and it’s cordoned off, of course, safety, right, but I was there that night. Tail of the ambulance. Of course I was. What I’m asking is what about four?

I saw the troughs, the pits in the snow, or should I call them what you won’t say they are?

Tracks, brother.

Doesn’t matter what I think. I report the sensible. A huge object dragging itself. A human. Not a human. A body. A not-body. Sounds like a prophecy, doesn’t it?

What grows in the barren place. The rainbows will erase us. Prismatic mouth. The chewing of light.

So arrest me too.



So he stayed at the motel for like maybe a month. Really interesting he died like that. I mean it’s like sad and terrifying but I’ve had some thoughts about the context.

Really? Actually my thoughts were about the symbology. So in the archetypical diagram of the pair there’s like a henchman, an officiary, then there’s always like a supervisory figure, a cupid, a like Baphomet, or stones in the desert that rise to like see. In the background overseeing. But nonhuman. For the divine marriage of the couple, which is the humans, and they have chains or some like bindings.

This is all relevant because in my visits to his room he’d like talk about being afraid of the golden chain. I said, “Of course you mean the chain between heaven and earth.” He said, “No, the one that drags from his flying cart.” Quivering. I remember there were burnt green candles everywhere. He talked about her. He did say they were being wed. That it was like a marriage. “But the chain is made of fire,” he said, “And I have to lift it with my hands.”

To be honest I became certain of my analysis when I heard she was seen running with a torch. So the guy you have is the officiary. The wedding has taken place. In a way that satisfies symbology. Which is the supervisor.

Ok not useful, I’ll grant you. It’s weird analysis. Whatever. But it continues. The supervisor is a non-human consciousness and needs like certain conditions. That’s the symbology. Certain patterns of bodies, stones, light. It’s hunger is for entering. Like a cascade of entering through every form of thought and touch and knowing.

No, I don’t. But I think you know who does.



HE says life consumes itself. With relish. And what does relish mean? Your own. Nightblessed tail of candygold. Swallowed. Down homewarm throat.

Though I’ve seen nothing. Of you. Your death face. Row of death faces. Gallery. Pasted. Across history. Its crumbling side. But my tail has fallen. Off. Where. Will you tell me?

Place? Where. HE was. The house. House of relish. House where HE lives. Floor is the glimmer of almalakut. Of ladder and horn. Where we went. Where wall. Wall is glimmer tearing. Where window. Windowglass is listening. Of the noface of the desert. Of long ago. Voice through the tearing. Columns are mirrors. Stapled. Scales. HIS neck. For astral motor. And in roofbright. Ceilingbright. HE declares. HIS smile is HIS stomach. Teaches. In the red flaring. Samsara lifted. Dangling hotpulled chains. Of earthbreak. Is the wedding garlands. The adored couple. Below. Of earthbreak. Singing. What does singing mean? He teaches. When mouth is open. When body surging. Swinging.

Teached to in house. Teached to in dream. In torn glimmer. Fourteen years old. It happened already. But my tail is gone. HE watches over. Now. Further churches.

Going? Over the trees. Country tour. Further congregations. Houses of relish and HE goes. For singing mouths. Over pine trees and hills. Scraping their tops. By stellar carriage. But I left. My tail.

Remember? I remember. How it lies shining. Curves. Heavy jeweled river. Of myself. Lost. Flung in the trees. You took it.

In the solids. Grey squares. Of your trucks. And chambers.

But someone hoards it. From me. You. Someone. Undifferent.

Please. Bring it. All else is lines and flat.



Hunter Gagnon

Hunter Gagnon lives in Fort Bragg, California where he has worked as a State Park Seasonal Aide, a bookseller, and as a poetry teacher for local elementary schools (before the pandemic). He holds a degree in Philosophy and has served in AmeriCorps and FemaCorps.

Ryan Grossman

Ryan Grossman is an oil painter and digital designer originally from the Pacific Northwest where the urge to paint water began. In his painting he likes to explore moments or narratives that tap into some of the experiences and emotions we all share unconsciously. He studied painting and received his degree from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and lives with his family on the north coast of California.