M Bennett

I watch this new lover fire the whole world down & want to burn, too or sweetheart, let me tell you a ghost story

Shed Skin by Liu Florence

 on this blue moon night metal snaps between this lover’s fingers—fingers that feed
aluminum to fire
. it tucks in on its Dalí self & puddles molten    I want to fire-bathe until my skin
scalds off
& scuttles into the dark         I want to be left a puddle         I want constantly

the night’s frequency slips past me    ruffling memory           cutting film strips up &
fusing them back together      out of order & flickering           I feel two frequencies
tonight & bask in them both     one live one dead         both candles caught lit in a breeze

Halloween invited my ghosts but they didn’t show ‘cept that one from years ago who’s
ready to jolt me dead with pure electricity           ready to raise my arm hair
ready to remind me of something or other that I tucked away             not to
forget but to find           I can never find him

everything begs to repeat itself under the full moon

I would beg this new lover to touch me but don’t have to     I will find the heat in his
body & drink deep                I will sleep in his arms safely I will night sweat my way
through these dreams &     hope he doesn’t see

for now, I shiver against the heat licking out the sides of the furnace—its belly
brimmed with liquid

my moonlit fire-orange mistress burns [im]patiently

I wonder how many times someone has watched him lean in on the fronts of his work
. lean into the flame       lean into the sand underneath              I lean in to wait &
wonder if
this lover knows the ghost in some other life                         I wonder if this lover sees
the ghost’s name rattling ‘round between my teeth on tepid nights    ghost    ghost
. ghost –a gentle clicking that       sinks me to my knees & venoms

I am soothed by this night even if ghost trails me

ghost tips my chin up to look into my eyes
ghost reminds me of his three favorite words: corvidae envoi reverie
ghost asks me if I remember what dish he had at Applebee’s five years back-           of course I do
ghost leads me into a dissonant reverie then lets go of my hand
ghost passes his fingers in & out of the fire like a sneaky kid feeling heat for the first time

. He double dog dares me to throw myself in & calls me chicken shit & He almost

He once told me that if I threw a fish into the fireplace & expected it to live it’s not the
fish’s fault if it dies                        when it dies     He tried so hard to help me not die

tonight I am the fish & the fire          tonight I want to have my cake and eat it too I
want this new lover’s hands burning across my flesh                       I want to never want this
ghost again
. at least not in this life                                      but I will

so  prepare myself for another undoing                     should I prepare this new lover
I’ve spoken to dream-me & settled my tab—ghost does like his drinks—& now we wait
for me to sleep between insomniac nights so the bartender can fix me up with a tall
shot of ghost’s brown eyes & never-touching-me hands even dream ghost ghosts

I am between a bitter bitch & not

between depressive spells

I am between a lot of things— wake & dream

between this new lover’s legs breathing in his sighs picking up the current zapping
around my head

blood blooms under the skin that stretches across my breasts

I arch my back and wicked grin         soft sighs         one hand on hip one hand in hair

my head quiets enough to hear the wind whipping sand outside the window

me & this new lover fold into one another alone and breathe

I am wake-dreaming again my eyes drift        flutter blink slow

I do not know how long I am drifting—falling asleep in the face of fire

the propane waves the air into an overlapped dimension & for a second I can see ghost
standing behind this new lover as if to remind me we are not the same 

ghost likes being a ghost though he’d not admit it

ghost takes pleasure in being my ghost

I take pleasure in many things & will tonight flame until I ignite this world & the next


About the author:
M Bennett is a poet originally from Jewett, Ohio, who obtained an MFA in Creative Writing at The University of Alabama. Bennett’s poems appear or are forthcoming in GASHER, Funicular, 86 Logic, and a few others.

Image: Shed Skin by Florence Liu. Lithograph. 22 x 30 inches. 2020. By permission. Florence Liu (Lanxuan Liu, 刘澜瑄) is an artist born in Shenzhen, China, currently pursuing a master of fine arts degree at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.