by Chauncey Baker

“You let everyone see your pain and that can be hard for some people because it reminds them of their own.”  my brother
I howl at night.  When everyone’s asleep
dreaming of turkeys and chinamen and apple
flavored feet, howling keeps my lungs aloft
so I can float into the dark, eyes closed,
mouth gaping.  I walk, each step a stone,
each breath, a pomegranate.  I am.
In the dark, I am dark.  In the morning,
I’ll be thankful for socks, pink and yellow,
my feet bruised but no gravel
stuck in the skin.  No stones in my arches.
Not today, but I can feel them tingling.
I cannot stand the dark so I’ve turned on
all the lamps, my house is a terrarium,
no rocks to hide beneath, only a bare bed.
I am a lizard lounging, a tarantula sleeping still.
Tap against the glass, I hiss.
When people turn their backs, I think
I’m the rock, you’re the hard place.
I press against them till I’m absolutely
juiced—no longer breathing seeds—
they say I stink of sweetness.
When I wake, I wash the dirt from my hair.