Originally published in Permafrost #35.1

Someone lights a match
at the window, lets it burn
to the fingertips, sinks away
into the dark. It is 12:14 AM
and the front door is ajar.
The bulb hangs from a floor lamp
like the wet tongue of a dog.
The blue walls are a fuss.
They are ready to sing,
ready to flake with teeth.
Canned laughter drifts in
and out, drifts into living rooms,
licks the heat from meals,
sleeps in your hat.
Delusions sleep in the moments
between moments.
I am a hot swollen tongue
in this dark mouth
we often call a room,
moving here and there
and slapping against
the walls, confusing
and almost teenaged.
Too hot on the cushions,
in the kitchen, even
out on the street and
downtown where a bum
like me doesn’t even know
what to say to store clerks.
At times it seems I can’t
peel myself from this position,
can’t move the corners
of my mouth, so here I am
waiting in the middle of the room.
And what is it that is stuffed
under the couch? I pick at it
until there’s too much blood.