When You Cannot Flee

I vomited until there was nothing in me. I called to him

                        and he crawled inside
the covers, told me this
will pass, and parted my legs.


He said, I’m joking with you, and split the curtains

down the center. What did I expect? To believe
                        is one thing, and to burn, its brother.

I kept a pile of coins on the nightstand. The sun danced

across the metal surfaces. The coins fidgeted
then clinked on the floor as the bed seized


beneath us. I vomited:
                        if I had the mettle,
if the curtains of my ribs parted,

if I unlatched my heart’s coin purse,
if the pulsing light inside my chest—
                        all I had were conditions.


I walked his apartment’s
parking lot; I raised my arms,
and the sun shone through

                        the circle I had become.
In his bedroom, shirt open, chest hair

                        like bolts of electricity between lapels


he called to me. I crawled into bed and lapped my tongue

across him until his body shook like iron
                        shavings around this magnetic tip.

Brian Clifton is the author of the chapbooks MOT (Osmanthus Press, 2019) and Agape (Osmanthus Press, 2019). They have work in Pleiades, Guernica, Cincinnati Review, Salt Hill, Colorado Review, The Journal, Beloit Poetry Journal, and other magazines. They are an avid record collector and curator of curiosities.