“The Manuscript of the Dead” © Derek Roper



The veteran wrestler who headlined events for thirty years and the glitzy,
rock star pastor who admitted he had an affair are both stepping down

at this time to focus on their families. One with a history of hurling his
opponents off the top of the steel cage, bloodied and broken, as if

directing the effects of gravity upon bodies straddling the line between
persona and perception, and one who fought and lost with narcissism,

forgetting he is also part of the choir to which he preaches. There is no
way to play God when the outcome is already scripted, and living a double

life only works if the character and audience are both in on the storyline.
But the way to determine if it’s a sport isn’t by deeming it fake or real,

but by the way a man humbles himself in the loss and how he resurrects
from the rubble. A tombstone piledriver or revelation of moral failures,

even the most spirit-filled sermon, doesn’t ease the blow or help prepare
a man for an unexpected fall when he loses his way down from the peak

of the mountain he’s already named after himself. Because when a man
loses his way, he wanders around his own familiar landscapes attempting

to climb back up to the pinnacle of a ministry, or vocation, or steel cage,
to once again have his hands raised in a sign of victory or submission

as if closer to touching Heaven.


Daniel Romo is the author of Apologies in Reverse (FutureCycle Press 2019), When Kerosene’s Involved (Mojave River Press 2014), and Romancing Gravity (Silver Birch Press 2013). His poetry can be found in The Los Angeles Review, PANK, Gargoyle, and elsewhere. He has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte, and he lives and teaches in Long Beach, CA. More at danielromo.wordpresss.com.

Derek Roper aka the Mad Artist has dedicated my creativity and ingenuity to the cosmic mythos. Some of his favorite classic cosmic horror stories include the “Call of Cthulhu,” “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” and “The King in Yellow.” His passionn for these stories and the mythos drive his creative processes.