paradise is bright white: hospital

lights and linoleum corridors;


paradise is bright white like a night sky

so packed with stars

even the greatest navigator wouldn’t see

his own fingers moving before his eyes.


“white is purity,” they chant, “white is clean,”

white burns your eyes like a billion suns—

white mocks you, taunts you;

reflects your sins like clear water.


God created humans in his own image (you know; you were there):


but had they always looked so beautiful?


creatures so certain they were bereft of sin;

they burned too—so differently from God, yet so lovely—

like stars, exhausting themselves to the point of death.


you see the red string of fate

and give silent thanks to Prometheus.




you stand oin an open field, night on your bare skin—

two lashes of fire down your back, skin

crumbles to ash:


your tongue a hunk of magma, saliva

molten lava in your mouth,

blisters, burns, cover your lips, like

freckles, or

black spots on a dalmatian:


and the Devil descends and captures your mouth in His—

bites down on your lower lip, hard enough to leave a scar—

slides His hand between your ribs:





you breathe and it feels

like the first you’ve ever taken.


and the Devil runs His tongue over your charred lips

His fingers over your singed cheeks


and He calls you beautiful.




you’re in a graveyard. on your knees

tears pool in the crescent scars on your cheeks

you carved with your own fingernails; mixing with blood




that splatters onto the dirt, swallows

it like an offering


and you grin; one that splits your lips

so you taste that metallic red stuff

smiling like the world is ending (and it is)


and you’ve never felt more alive.


what’s that taste? like strawberries and skin and

the ice-cold steel of a sharpened blade;

fire and brimstone; like a love that fades, still

heavy on your tongue—


you spit. 


it tastes like victory.




there you are.


on the ground, surrounded by

the white shrapnel of that fragile scaffolding;


your fingers meet the ruined flesh 

that was, once upon a time, your heart

and the splintered shards of your bygone ribcage


you laugh;

a choked, ruined noise of mirth.


paradise has never been bright white;

paradise has never been the sterile purity

of hospital lights or linoleum corridors.


the blood slithers up your esophagus like bile,

a crimson miasma that steals the air from your lungs;

a razor blade across your lips and cheek, gashing and

pulling and



paradise is this;

humans have known paradise their entire lives.

Photo: FormD