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By Morgan Sweeney

Understairs.
A damp room at the butt-end of the back-passage
Past the broken tread, it beckons in the dark around the bend.
Blink, as light and heat awake the unwindowed space of sweated, fœtid air.
It’s dead and overbreathed.
Glass, with a bulb-garland, frames You in a dim and greasy pane.
Spend a moment asking why your life’s so misaligned.
Then look away, squeeze dry and let it end.
Paint-on pancake slap.
And powder-off.
Then stick the puckered lip with carmine red.
And strip.
And slip-on someone else again:
Just like a rank, old coat.
You try to drain away the You that clings within your head.
But He fights and drowns and struggles instead.
You’re conscience-exempted.
Two-way tempted.
Twin-intentioned and so: double-sided.
Facing down an opening-line mind-split
“Ten minutes now. Beginners please.”
This is when You’ve got to squeeze the slipp’ry words you’ve read together.
Hold on tight.
And with tremendous force, hammer out your character.
Bend the text to say the things this other man has said in endless reper, reper…
…Reper, reper, repetition of the words that never end.
Until You’re out to lunch.
Your mind is dead
And a fiction takes up lodging in your head…

The tungsten arc throws tainted light through painted gel.
Step in.
And feel Your thoughts diminish as His swell.
You speak.
You hear the words and the applause,
But can’t tell if they’re His or if they’re Yours.

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