I open my eyes in a crowded arcade.

Dusty machines and underhanded victories

spill out from slots we call, doors.

There are friends here. Drunks, spilling out

from slots we call, doors.

I wrestle with the idea of freedom. It nearly

wins; winding up to pounce like spring-time,

the lion of Judah.

I open my eyes in a dim Virginian apartment.

Compartmentalized candlelit shabbas,

dipped in wine and a daughter who is not

a good daughter holds me in her arms

like a good sister. She learned Hebrew

to impress a boy who barely could speak

enough English to pay her child-support.

I open my eyes and I am in a siren-soaked

supermarket. I am told they are looking for

Ishtar, over an intercom. 

A google search easily sheds her

secrets. Leaves pixels streaming like

a mother’s tears. Any kiss left from this

goddess’s lipstick will sear into you

like war. Like Judas, on fire. Like a 13 year old,

arrested for seducing a train-ride away

from home.

I open my eyes again, and a bearded man

shakes my hand, asking: have you seen

this woman? I shake my head: no one has. 

Not even Venus recognizes her own

divinity, when she’s used to car-sex and

smoke filled aspiration.

People are running all around me!

They look like they’re running from

some rampant snarling beast.

I open my eyes, and I’m sitting with

my misery, my shame, my monster,

and my name. Two of these rhyme,

and none are sane. So, I greet them.

Hello misery; you look so familiar.

A picture of me, etched by charcoal

fingers. Shame says nothing, as usual.

My monster is bound by a mirror, I keep

in hand. My name asks me why I came here.

I say: I’m looking for my family.

My name scoffs; is that why you replaced me?

Is that why you’ve replaced the past?

No! I say, I haven’t the money to afford that.

I open my eyes and we’re at a long-table.

The truth sits at the head, waiting.

We are misery, shame, a monster, my name,

and me.

I am misery, shame, a monster, my name,

and me. All sharing a meal. Sardonic salad

tossed like pencil shavings in the

plastic sharpener-vat.

I close my eyes when the mirror-bound

monster asks; did you lose your way? 

Is that why your mother cries herself to sleep?

I l__p onto shame. WE ARE NOT THE SAME!

I open my eyes — CRACK. My pencil broke

against this page. I hold up the mirror,

and my monster claims: A pencil will snap when 

pressed with enough pain.