The Melancholia

Cortney Lamar Charleston

I’ve been known to walk through walls — with a door, through it,

juggling knives                 without handles, my lifelines all

the deeper, as if traced back and forth in red ink on my palms.

And I’m a loaded rifle with a light trigger,     my penis some

redundant device tucked away into cotton drawers. An animal

is proven by the smell of me;         every tooth in my mouth is

a triangle with one angle below freezing, perfect for piercing

flesh — but I make sure to wear my muzzle.                 I make sure

to swallow when the ache splits me: my head is a bottle of Aspirin

with one solitary pill inside, rattling around           like a marble.

I’ve been drinking more and more water. I still can’t swim.

There is only           down. And somehow, I’m the socket and

the scissors in the same: an accidental harm, like a slip-Freudian.

Their words fly through the window of my mouth like     paper

airplanes into a darkening confusion. The howling wind blows me

fist-like, my bones like xylophone bars, but         as I lay sleep

nothing is heard from me except an acclaimed imitation of death.

I haven’t remembered a dream in five years, but I do know

in the back of my throat a man hangs by his neck, swaying when

I speak; I know that,           like a ghost, I walk through walls.

about the author