My facial muscles contract in preparation
to expel a communicator.
I reach into my nose and pull out a rainbow tapeworm
as a token of goodbye;
you place it in your palm and examine it carefully
—a tiny, jiggling streak of color—
then snort it, playing for keeps.
The worm is a stroke of light in my consciousness
always just beyond my field of view,
sometimes a pale pastel orange, sometimes a ripe yellow
or a tinkling, scintillating green.
It whispers your words in sensations of taste
and delicate touch,
as through threadbare linen.
It tells me you're alive and well and flaring
across a purple sky in your spaceproof cocoon,
leaving beyond contrails tracing
messages to bear-cubs and insects
It tells me you are quicksilver,
flowing through gaps in
the aged monuments left behind by warlocks
of an unknown species,
always exploring, never relenting.
It tells me you're unsatisfied,
seeking to drink your fill
of white-hot glorious pain
and a brash bronze pleasure,
streaming down your throat
as you swallow,
in time with your tears.
What do you see of me?
I live sandwiched in between rectangular walls
painted a nondescript gray,
a hundred stories underground
on a planet without an atmosphere.
I crave these little flares
of information and heart,
knowing I can offer precious little
of my lived experience in return.
Why do you love me, I wonder
as I lie back on my cot
and listen to the nighttime sounds
of the dormitory, the sneezes
rustles and coughs.
Our recycled air is always dry.
Why do you need me?
Do you see all the gray?
I can only offer my inside,
where buildings grow like mushrooms
and insect-mobiles race across
lit by crystal clouds
shining from their core,
I can only offer the dreams
where I stumble across walls
and then fall, shouting
not in fear but in the raw
exhilaration of joy
induced by the motion that tears
my flesh apart;
I can only offer my thoughts.
They shine like razor-thin beams
across the deep blue of
they wrap around at the edges
and enable me to hug myself
in your absence,
they are manifold and mysterious,
of a puzzling origin
somewhere deep down in my mind
where it all turns inside out,
interfaces with the world.
Is that what you need?
The worm shifts inside my head
with a resonance of you,
providing a quiet answer—
a self-contained riot of lights.