The Artisan

His friend sneaks him cadavers
out of the freezer; vagabonds
and those that still wait
for a family that will never come.
Their flesh wanes until only bones
remain, resting half-buried
in the woods.

He digs them back up
and carves so many relics.

There are skulls filled with sawdust
to be sandbags of a hot-air balloon
free-falling after a sudden gust;

there are two lanky candles, once
index fingers of an abandoned body,
that when blown, extinguish the light
coming from the velvet-coated
rib cage sconce, and then all
is dark.

He also sells his wares
to those who aren't disgusted
by shaking hands with the dead –

scalemail from a thousand fingernails
and lead-coated patellae that will lie
on a plate against three pounds of flesh
as soon as the butcher arrives at work.

He grabs the chisel's handle, a tibia
sprinkled with bone dust, and resumes his task.
After that day's work is complete,
the excess is left out for the dogs.