Kingdom of Nothing

a tarantula can survive
more than two years without eating /
yesterday I ate a cheeseburger
large enough to feed a continent
of tarantulas / last week
I lined my bookshelves with novels
I’ll never open / outside
a rusted truck rests
in an abandoned field /

once I knew a guy who robbed a guy
and invested the money in Timberlands
no one ever bought / he swore
he’d sell the boots for double the price
and double his earnings / fifty thousand
spiders might inhabit an acre of open field /
the South is full of open fields
my mouth is full of spiders /

my urologist prefers to rest his hand
on my leg when discussing lab results /
his face studies numbers and percentages /
he says something about bad
and good / something about thirty-three million
and low motility /

my earliest memory is believing I was gone die
when I was young / the neighborhood bully
punched me in the stomach
and everyone laughed / I remember
how a punch is enough to change your God /
how a punch will leave you counting fairies /
how silence follows the most severe pains /

I don’t make a sound after he says low motility
or surgery / drive home with a tarantula inching
down my throat / I remember someone saying
moths don’t have stomachs / I remember
the afternoon my wife discovered
I was full of kingdoms / whole kingdoms
upon kingdoms of nothing / thirty-three million
nothing kingdoms inside my nothing body

Derrick Harriell

Derrick Harriell

Derrick Harriell resides, with his wife and son, in Oxford MS and teaches in the English and African American Studies programs at the University of Mississippi where he also directs the Master of Fine Arts in creative writing program. His poem collections are Cotton (Aquarius Press- Willow Books 2010), Ropes (Aquarius Press- Willow Books 2013- winner of the 2014 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Poetry Book Award), and Stripper in Wonderland (LSU Press 2017). His poems and essays have been published widely.
Derrick Harriell

Latest posts by Derrick Harriell (see all)

Author: Derrick Harriell

Derrick Harriell resides, with his wife and son, in Oxford MS and teaches in the English and African American Studies programs at the University of Mississippi where he also directs the Master of Fine Arts in creative writing program. His poem collections are Cotton (Aquarius Press- Willow Books 2010), Ropes (Aquarius Press- Willow Books 2013- winner of the 2014 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Poetry Book Award), and Stripper in Wonderland (LSU Press 2017). His poems and essays have been published widely.