08/18/2013

The Cage

by Blake Butler

Here’s a short but strange piece from Blake Butler, a writer who’s been called the 21st century William Burroughs. Blake’s imagery is always somewhat nightmarish, and here he delivers with this weird hairless and silent kid cooped up behind a burial plot.

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There’s a boy in a cage in the sand fields behind where they buried my cousin Ralph. I found him by myself. The cage is white and made of plastic but the plastic won’t melt. It sometimes bends. The boy in the cage will bend the cage so far sometimes it seems like he might be able to get out. His chubby skull comes bunching out through the bars. His eyes are sunken in his head, two little slits I can’t even imagine how he sees out of. He has no hair. I have tried to ask him who put him in the cage and where he came from and if he loves me. I don’t know if he speaks English. I’ve seen his penis. It looks damaged. I’ve seen the dark skin around his asshole. I go to see him every day. I don’t want to tell anyone about him. I feel an odd power watching him struggle. I bring him fruit and water and sometimes beef. He will kiss my hand if I let him. He sucks the salt off my fingers. I call him my brother because I have never had a brother and always wanted one. I wish he could have met our mother. She would have loved him. When he dies I will bury him in the sand if I can get his body out of the cage.

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Blake Butler is the author of There Is No Year and Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia. His next novel, 300,000,000, is forthcoming from Harper Perennial.

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posted by Jamie Iredell
Jamie Iredell is our August 2013 Writer In Residence. He is the author of Prose. Poems. a Novel. and The Book of Freaks. Later this year Future Tense Books will release a collection of his essays, and in 2014 Aqueous Books will release a novel. His writing has appeared in many journals and magazines, among them The Chattahoochee Review, The Rumpus, Copper Nickel, The Nervous Breakdown, Opium Magazine, and Sleepingfish. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and daughter, and teaches creative writing to college students. He is the fiction editor of Atticus Review. He was included on Dzanc Books' 2010 list of "20 Writers to Watch" in response to the New Yorker's 20 under 40 list.

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