“Fight or Flight” by Jonathan Everitt

                                  for H.G. Wells

As night falls on the island jungle, birds and bugs all chirp and cry
to scare away the dark—as do the compound’s torches whose fiery fists guard
a white canvas tent where a surgeon begins his delicate barbarism.

This is no predator on the table of Moreau, no feline facing vivisection,
no anthropomorphic abomination. This new castaway washed ashore
as man. Now he’s naked, facing down, arms outstretched in lantern light.

The doctor’s drawn black markers in opposing crescent moons between
the scapulae—dotted outlines indicating first incisions. Behind him
in an ice chest rests a pair of severed swan’s wings crudely labelled fragile.

Their draining blood flavors the crushed ice. They wait in stillness for
adaptive attachment to a strange species by vessel, nerve, and tendon. Soon
bandages will stabilize fresh limbs while the subject, caged, recuperates.

He won’t expect this when he wakes. His last request before the
cloth ethered his mouth was a drag of black marker across his cheeks.
“A polar bear jaw,” he’d pled. But better to fly than devour.


Jonathan Everitt is a freelance writer whose creative writing has been published or is forthcoming in Small OrangeThe Bees Are Dead, The Empty Closet, Lake AffectThe Finger, ImageOutWrite, and Escape into Life. Jonathan has also co-led a workshop for LGBTQ poets and co-founded the monthly open mic, New Ground Poetry Night at Equal Grounds Coffeehouse in Rochester. He is a regular guest on WAYO FM’s Flour City Yawp, a radio show focused on poetry. Jonathan is currently a creative writing MFA candidate at Bennington College. He lives in Rochester, N.Y., with his partner, David Sullivan.