red spray on the wall in the pattern of a hand waving
i am underwater or thrashing on a carousel
or defeated in a chair while ants swarm over fingertips.
i play hangman with anton chekhov
in an abandoned storefront: charred roof beams,
cinder, gritted fists. a bit like gravity tied to a balloon
all electric noise and sparks.
with vertebrae bent out of shape
he looks at me like folded paper, declares
this word does not contain the letter p.
he leaks like a faucet removing both shoes,
sketches the jungle inside a mason jar.
no plants, just dreadful bodies
covered in gashes and bright orange filament
keeps them tethered to the ground.
anton chekhov is lost in this jungle.
for the word i guess shaving. he mutters
about rats and shooting himself in the thigh.
how the cartridge burrows through raw flesh, howling.
will the letter p emerge from gloom in the final act,
drape a plastic bag around my neckline,
gentle as flaking skin from a sunburn?
the hangman, drunk on warm pig’s blood and human meat.
i will not make the front page, instead newspapers read:
the dog’s fur contains battery acid, a stray nucleus.