Author: Jacqueline West

His cereal spoon is a hundred pound weight.
The mug is resentful. His arms hang limp,
gravity yanking him like a leash.
He’s been sinking slowly ever since
he realized we’re not all safe;
the chair legs splinter under him.
He leaves footprints in the tile.
The other Titans have outgrown their heroics
and gone off somewhere to have a beer,
talk about TV and inevitability.
They leave him behind, the last kid at the table,
chewing his cold food with patient bites.
He swallows the soggy hunger of others,
tumid stomachs of children and gap-ribbed dogs
whose faces bloom like mold in his mind.
High school would be much easier
without them clinging to his shoulders,
his scrawny neck dangling with their mass grave.

Each morning is a rusted keyhole.
The air parts resentfully,
cold crawling to the dustless corners.
On the pale wallpaper
hyacinths bloom ceaselessly;
polyester amaranths
furl from crystal bowls.
Life is bottled here,
its frantic static
stilled to silence.
For years it has been the same.
She walks the white carpet,
erasing her own footprints.
She fears that she is followed.
Even in this stale garden,
a dark breath
stirs the paper petals.
In nightmares,
she pulls wide the door
and daylight crashes like a wave,
Pandora’s horrors filtering in
upon the too-bold sun.
For years it has been the same—
always a death about to turn up
like a white root on a spade.

“Life through a Black Net Veil” was previously published in The Pedestal Magazine, Issue 29 (August-October 2005).