Slow Burn, Pamela O’Shaughnessy

Storm Triptych, Z.Z. Wei


Slow Burn

in the morning glad I see my foe outstretch’d beneath the tree


slow burn the wick igniting
quiet a flickery night light
in my wax body
an unused part
remembered from a long-ago dream
when demons tormented me
until I burst
from my dream-skin and rose a black-lit
faceful of death
black robe concealing
the welding-torch of revenge

slow burn a chemical burn into my
ventricles hissing and smoking
stinking when I thought I was healing
spine and morals corroded
ego turned vip’rous
burning steady, measured, vicious

out back grows my little tree
to hang my enemies one, two, three

winter passes warmly
I write out the plots
to bring them sick to fear

drawing them carefully from my side
the wounded place where bad men hide

to the poison on my table
gun in my bed
rope on the porch
prowling slit-irised

until my brother who is long dead
touches my shoulder shakes his head

then my mother speaks in dreams
brings rain in spring and shows me the mud-pit

where fanged ones boil lost forever
blindly striking at each other―

I haul myself wounded to grass
still what my mother held

Pamela O’Shaughnessy



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