toy snakes and fish fools

Image Description: a little blonde boy in a blue long-sleeve, blue shorts, blue socks, and taupe Mary Jane flats plays with a large green snake that has red and yellow patterns on it and is surrounded by various fish. 

Design by Ayesha Ashraf.

in the quiet black of the room, the non-existers
there are millions here
rooting for wrong-doings or moral soundness

an array of lost ghosts and closet monsters
that gather strangely before my attentiveness
I speak to them, not many do,
in their vast forsakenness

sometimes they are ill-mannered and ill-hearted,
but only out of that understandable loneliness
the bad ones pray for my downfall for sport
who could blame them?

my father is here too, with his long-haired good intentions,
hands I’ve eaten from,
stomach I was once a pit in, still am
at times, no more
than bad fish

or something else he never caught
on those trips where I was talked
through the folly of “not killing”: impaling
worms to skewer existers by the foolishly salivating mouth
and toss them back, bleeding

at least I think it’s him,
the room is too far dark and full
of tricksters for certainty

my mind, too, relinquishes form
like those rubber snakes that swell several feet in water
when my head floats in the pool
of pillow tears, and suddenly venomous slinkies surround me

I can’t help but taunt them because

  1. I’m bitter over their unassuming label: “toy.”
  2. I itch to test the severity of the pain they claim to inflict.
  3. I’m afraid of them. This is my heady attempt at proving I am not.
  4. Worst case scenario, they kill me.

So, I dangle myself in front of them
but they don’t want me,
even they fear me

eventually, they do snap in defense,
because well, I’ve been instigating
and now, a body of poison,
I see that all these snakes are one

they all have fish in their stomachs and empty promises and a pile of bloody hooks
stashed beneath my bed

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