Light slithers through drawn shades—crooked arrows
splayed across bed sheets musky with overuse:
remains of a man too slow to let go.

Priestess at the foot
sweat and wild look,
her glance darts between the broken
man and dusty pages in her hands,
from gathered beasts of delirium—

four-legged, three-headed,
and back to the book,
its binding long lost; its print,
dim and ancient; its words
she recites to the writhing man
as the beasts snarl.

Priestess hollers over howls
of protest from Man;
his hands pound the bed.

Shenever Lovedyou!
Man’s back arches, fingers tense with
premature rigor mortis. Beasts snap and tear
at each other: cannibalistic, orgiastic anticipation.

Crooked light sinks into Man,
his heart like quicksand: primordial
black hole, surrender hope
for chance at contentment.

The walls bleed fungus; ponderous, oozing
flies swarm like buzzsaws. Priestess sets
her bottomless eye to page as the great evil comes.

Man opens his voice to death.
His eyes glow rainbow, like mist
off a lamp. Beasts devour
one another; their numbers
drop with Man’s tears.

I release you!
Priestess: her voice, tremulous;
her hair, like red ribbons in a gale—
beasts’ jealous howls,
Man’s wailing agony: I’m sorry!
I’m sorry! I’m sorry!

Hand of Priestess, claw of crone, raised—
third finger to thumb; others, straight and true.

I release you!
Her hand stabs at Man’s breath
and scours it from his lungs.

Releasin Yourguilt, Youranger!
Her voice, a shriek of maximum pitch.

Down to last beast, slack-jawed
and drooling, gorged eyes roll white,
absent-mindedly ravenous.

Priestess releases the demon
with a sweeping wave. It hovers
for a heartbeat, then, caught on the light
of her words, it shatters the bedroom window:

Sun pours its glitter over the broken
glass, promising revelation and baptism.

Man on his elbows, tentative breaths,
then steady, deep and luxurious.

Priestess slumps against the wall.
Another beast in the corner rumbles,
splits in half, its hunger: exponential and fertile.

Beasts leap, claws catch Priestess’ throat, land on the bed
and stalk between Man’s open legs.

There is always another demon!
Their unison voices, emetic like a cloud of locusts.

Man, reinvested with Priestess’ pages
in his hands and on his lips:

And there is always another day.
I release you!