Soft teasing into the mindscape,
The burnt man stretched and leered, itinerant maggot
In feeble sleepers’ blood, flexing lock-talons
And rearing erect, as though fresh from the ooze of his parentage.
The associative brain is most hospitable to ghosts.
He winks and it’s all red.
Dragging air in, thorny air
To unsuspecting lungs, Annmarie panics.
Red room! Red room! Stranger!
Pain’s dikes rear like footmen’s pikes,
Hiking enemy colors, homeland scalps.
She kicks like a dead thing,
Rust and coal, crusty sparking pyre
The walls screech and hiss in ritual ire,
Forms like frozen seething snakes
Or entrails, black and gurgling with steam
Their lord hefts his prey, stroking her deep
Slitting bone, trigger
The girl jerks—
“You played the wrong mind, worm.”
Her voice rails from the pipes, changed.
In his hands, throat bones hackle to roar:
Like cutting ants, the sound seismiphies his bones.
Scourged, the burned man chokes and coils,
The insult of her talon
Is a mercy.
The boiler’s walls rally to the girl
Like nestlings, stretching budding iron teeth.
At her nod, they tear him. She grins like shrapnel.
“Meet my dragon,” she tells the air, absent.
She wakes cold, ringed by watchers,
And checks her hands for claws.
“I got him.”