The Nightmare: Oil on Canvas, Henry Fuseli, 1781

Too hot to
rest, I toss
my arms off
the bed. My night-
gown wet with
sweat. I feel you
— a sack of
scavenged skulls
on my chest
— sipping
the salt from
my breasts. Imp.
Incubus. Im-
pulse. You and
me like a mare
that must be
broken in
by breaking in-
to. Tamed is
how fire is
by giving itself
something to destroy:
it destroys it-
self. But who
can deter-
mine what’s inside
What is risked
when we enter    ...    
Caliper. Forceps.
Scalpel. Oculus.
Perhaps you’re
the wilderness
that waits with-
in me. Perhaps an
other mystery, I
open beneath
you. Yoked. Harnessed.
At once a-
wake and a-
sleep. I nay.
I knock
over the kerosene
lamp. Light of
the rational
mind snuffed. Shadow
of shadows.
Because I can’t
see, I sense.
Your thumb
my mouth. A
command. Arch-
angel. Vision
of invasion.
My horse
heart beating
with yours.

More Poems by Paul Tran