Sad Wisps of Empty Smoke
Every time I split your lip I leave a ghost.
Dark stairs spiral down your throat, each step built
the day I crushed you to the wall,
fresh planks hammered down with each new blow
until you begged and I punched harder
while your mother cheered.
Shutters latched behind your eyelids
rattle loose each night.
Wind howls through your broken nose.
X-rays will show
even once your candles gutter out,
this house is haunted.
in my husk years,
as tumors suck my innards out,
when your noises roust me and I scurry
to your boot, bite through to flesh,
each time your heel hovers
above my wheezing carapace,
your guilt stays the killing thud,
at most you
nudge me with a scrape of sole on tile
until I scuttle back beneath the floor.
Then I hear the specters,
the ones with open ribs like jaws,
resume their tearing at your eyes.
I dry to cinder in the crawlspace,
eclipsed by the wraiths I’ve left you.
Mike Allen edits the digital journal Mythic Delirium and the Clockwork Phoenix anthology series. His first collection of horror stories, Unseaming, debuted in October to starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. He’s also released a new poetry collection, Hungry Constellations, the title poem of which was a 2014 Rhysling Award honoree. By day he’s the arts columnist for the daily newspaper in Roanoke, Virginia, where he lives with his wife and co-conspirator Anita, as well as two diabolical cats and a goofy dog.