SPOTLIGHT: Pull Yourself Together by Arden Hunter

The dark thing

There’s a dark thing living in the tunnels underneath him; it whispers through the vents and taps a message on the pipes. It knots the power cords and chews through baseboards when it’s hungry – but he can’t catch it though he’s tried, he’s trying, and he’ll try.

The dark thing never shows its face in daylight hours; it creeps through shadows and it laughs behind closed doors. He’s stalked it softly through the trapdoor in the twilight – but it’s elusive, echoes on; it echoes on, and on.

He’s closing in on the dark thing’s nest of darkness; his goal to banish it from house and hearth and home. But dark things come to roost in places they feel welcome – his dark thing asks for comfort, and in comforting, it comes.

At long last the dark thing settles where it’s wanted; in mind’s recesses and in faded memory. His dark thing croons to know the kindness of its master – wild but a companion, it’s willing, willed; it will.

Didn’t she?

She told you my secret,
Didn’t she? (Didn’t she? Didn’t she? Didn’t she?)
Whispered it into your ear in the middle of the night
Like confession into a miniature skate-park
She did flips and kicks over your whorls and ridges
To the sound of riotous applause
Did she put words in my mouth? (She said X, she said Y, She said live, She said die)
Pry my lips open with warm dry fingertips
Slip her nails between my teeth and
Pry them open as you pried into me?
Did she curl her tongue just so (elucidating anathema persnickety elysium)
Like the curls of my writing
The inky scribble that you said should be kept close to your heart?
Well my secrets are deeper and sweeter than anything meeker
My fever transceiver can fault her and grieve her
Selectively bleaker so catch her and keep her
Or secrets will come and they’ll slash and they’ll burn
My heart is an enclave she conquered and kissed
With her lips made of poison bromeliad sips
She took my words into the forests that grow in her lungs then she cut it all down (misshapen Minimalism ontological climax)
As lumber for you.
You built your home from my words from my palette and jaw
From the breath that I gave up from wide gaping maw

It will swallow you whole
It will swallow you both
She told you my secret,
Didn’t she?

Sleep paralysis

the shining eyes encased with flies
crack wrinkles in the crust
the fingers rub together shick shick schick
it waits for you to blink
sings sandpaper symphonies with digits grey and gone
you can’t see it
you try to whisper
your voice the wind in tombs
it’s not there if you can’t see it
you defy your eyes as proof
there is no mouth above your head
it hangs there watching mute
it knows it’s there
your parallel
no need for life’s approval
you can’t move but it can wave as if caught in a current
creaks of withered dry bones
cradled in flaking flesh
leaves tangled in mats of hair rustle
a child’s mobile gone wrong
the tips of hair caress your face
like weeping willow fronds
the flies are restless
coming soon
they’ll act as mouth and more
are you asleep?
is it asleep?
are you in your bed?
or are you hanging above this thing
inevitable impending
are you haunted or are you haunting?
a need to know
it grows

your heart stops pounding
your eyelids flutter
you both nod in tandem
don’t blink now or there’s no more here
don’t blink now no
don’t blink

Fairy floss

Sticky sweet threads, this decadent webbing,
I crave every time that we go to the fair.
‘Cotton candy!’ the sound of the
Autumn; as patiently parents pull pink
from my hair.

Magic, I think, as it shrinks up and settles;
a ball of hard sugar to rest in my cheek.
Exasperation, my parents and sister they
watch me inhale it; still straining to

Years later turns out that I didn’t listen:
my mother was calling it a different name.
‘Fairy floss,’ was this dream-whipped bright eddy,
identical content but soul
not the same.

The child in her, mischievous and silly,
presented this phrase like I’d bat it away.
I hoarded it, held it: I pressed it in paper.
It’s stamped in my mouth,
in my heart, to this day.

Keep your words: keep your shining descriptions,
don’t give them up: claim them back and restore,
the fun of the fair and your carefree light giggles.
Fairy-floss now, and for evermore.

Paying attention

I can’t count the ways that I’d kill you if I could
can’t hold the ideas still long enough to see them
just a vague impression of cartilage bending as far as it can then
snapping in a satisfying shower of oil
I assume that you are slick and greasy inside
that your bones drip with lubrication to ease their passing
joints protected with sacks of slime that would creep unaided if given the chance
skin skating on layers of butter-smooth fat that will burn when brought into the light

I know I’d be violent
up close
I’d be up in your face pupils black into black
I’d enjoy them contracting in despaired realization
I’d breathe in your breaths steal them out of your chest

I prop my chin on my hands feel my own dry bones grind
as you prattle and rattle on and on
what I’d give for your tongue to rest damp in my palm
for your jawbone to crack in two pieces

maybe tomorrow I always say
don’t give up on your dreams
as you finally tire and reel your voice in
I think next time
oh next time
maybe you’ll listen to me

Hope is a hodag

paw the ground / flick the ears / blood congeals on hooves / flies bite wounds the monsters left / no relief in twitching tails

spin your eyes to see the face/ they grin they laugh they strike / their bottles bounce against your hide / the sun beats down / it shines

pull the weight / stagger here / call up for relief / the callous things are shrieking now / their anger hot and final

scream it out / this unjust life / this fire from raging heart / and from the ash / the hodag comes / vengeance / horns and spines

it runs them down / these man-pain beasts / spears their hearts right through / they enrich the ground they fall on / fertilising fallow fields / fitting end to land’s tormentors / to the users / the abusers

your time is gone / you tread the sky / far from their hurts and harms / the hodag stalks humanity / waits in lowing fields and under dust

the face is failing justice /
the eyes are shattered homes /
the claws are made of whipping scars /
the teeth from broken bones

the man-beast monsters dying here /
they made it on their own /
the man-beast monsters dying here /
they made it on their own


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