The Last Handful of Clover

Excerpt from “The City of the Dead” by Keith Woo

Book Three — The Stone in the Stream

NOTE: This chapter is available in audiobook format on the TLHOC Podcast.
Access previous chapters of the book on the Table of Contents page.

They heard that he took a train to the city…

They heard that he stepped blinking into a crowd at the
station, where he promptly mingled and was lost.

They say that he hasn’t been seen since, and
that dust is settling on his books.

For a few years there
were false sightings.

A visitor to the city thought they saw him from a
passing bus window or across a busy city street.

And for a time they looked and
squinted and tried to see.

In the City of the Dead they say you must wait
until the last person on earth forgets your name.

And every year in the city those with horns, and tails,
and fins, step from buses or emerge blinking from taxicabs.

The city opens its arms and they
fade into the cavernous streets.

In the City of the Dead you can wander forever
and never tread the same street twice.

There is always slow piano music
drifting through an open window.

And sadness,
always sadness.

In the City of the Dead they are always
watching the gray sky roll by.

Waiting for the last person they knew
to forget their names.

Listening on street corners
for their new names to be spoken.

—Excerpt from “Epitaph” by Keith Woo, as it appears in “The Heavy Work of Vanishing: The Collected Poetry of Keith Woo,” edited by Pi’ilani Kilani, page 260.

Wess Mongo Jolley

Wess Mongo Jolley is Utah native, who is now an expatriate American novelist, editor, poet and poetry promoter, living in Montreal. He is Founder and Director of the Performance Poetry Preservation Project, and is most well known for hosting the IndieFeed Performance Poetry Channel podcast for more than ten years. His poems and short stories have appeared or journals such as Off The Coast, PANK, The New Verse News, and Danse Macabre, Apparition Literary Journal, Grain, and in collections such as the Write Bloody Press book The Good Things About America. He loves hearing from readers, and can be contacted through his website, at If you are enjoying this story, please drop him a line, and consider supporting his work as a novelist at All of the trilogy's over 207 chapters are available there for subscribers, and new poems, short stories, and other content is posted there every Friday.

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