Sleep Paralysis

Sleep Paralysis long poem

Photo by Tinned Salmon

The children were purpled
at a very quick glance you could kid yourself
they’d gotten into grape juice
taken the blueberries out of the freezer
had a fight with makeup of some kind
they were just dead

each lying on their back
a casual arrangement neither spooned
nor reaching out in agony
death had painted them calmly

the fire department arrived
strobed everything apart with red bubble lights
the stink of rubber coats
they’d never seen anything like it
then the coroner pushed everyone aside
shrunk the scene down stripped of emotion
pushed everyone back
roped the bedroom off into a lifeless microcosm
got the crimescene boys in
hooked me up to a detective

she wasn’t the type I expected –
a brown pinstriped suit and a gray ponytail
told me not to edit myself
to let the words unreel:

I just stopped in to watch the game
one of those open invitations to decadence
someone I knew
knew somebody else who got a cash settlement
some half-crooked slip-and-fall
spent it on booze and fried food

I never saw the kids outside the room
but inside that rowdy house
people were coming in and out
shouting at the score shouting for the hell of it
a floozy in pants so tight I could count the moles
on her back was half in my my lap
I detected six smells coming off of her
none of them good
I can’t recall her name
but it was something you’d call a donut or a prostitute
I couldn’t move without setting her off shimmying
she was either going to grab my pecker or my wallet
so I stayed put even when I had to piss
it went to halftime
all the nicotine addicts had to get up to smoke

when I went to look for the bathroom’s when I found them
flipped on the wrong light
got stuck in a stillness deeper than gravity
that kind of revelation has its own odor, you know,
like when you get touched by electric current
the reaper will do that
he causes things to come ungrounded

I never took but a couple steps into the room
dark wood paneling and those bodies
the only things covering the mattress
carpet sucking at me like a sandbar

for a second I thought it was one of those dreams
where you work your mouth
work up a scream and only pass hot breath
I saw their spirits up by the light fixture
naked fly-specked bulbs and those three little ones
eyes so big I knew they’d really seen something
we just stared at each other
that’s all I could do
and that’s how the host of the party found me

how long was I in there I can’t say for certain
I can tell you how many spackled mountain ranges are on that ceiling
I wrote an adventure for every one
put those kids in there and they were heroes every time
that’s how long I was there
and I guess part of me will never be able to leave

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a poet from Seattle Washington USA. His poetry has appeared in print in publications such as Bellowing Ark, Point Nopoint, and most recently in Contraposition magazine. When not writing poetry he is a Human Resources professional, a repentant glutton, and a novelist specializing in the weird-fiction genre.
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