the elderly man in the black and white picture
pours coffee and wine for his guest at the table
his charcoaly spittle runs over his cracked charcoal lips,
down his chin, and drops into his moldy old mug.
he won't even notice the stains as the coffee
erupts in the cup and spills onto the paper
it's yellowed and curled at the edges, as ancient as he.
the mumbling girl claws at the flies behind her eyes,
paying no mind to what the elderly man shakily sets before her.
chamomile eyelashes fall away like dandelion seeds
spreading the earth with small, bothered children crying for their incoherent mother's bosom,
lost on the wind of a million more chances that she'll never take.
she mumbles the stories the flies buzz in her brain
of their families and christmases and baby showers.
licorice limbs skip from nerve to nerve and elicit small, fast spasms and twitches in her lithe, brittle frame.
and the elderly man in the old charcoal sketch
bares his shiny, black gums,
cranes his pale, flaccid neck
and a brown, rotted tooth shakes by a thread in that cavern
pushed and twirled by his tongue, but it doesn't matter
he's tied the few teeth he has left up with strings
as not to loose them as they tumble from his skull.
he wheezes like a squeeze box, a rusty high sound,
and his cloudy, wet eyes twinkle just for a moment.
the noise meets her ears and her babbling halts,
and her eyes flicker frantically, pulse picking up,
and the man made of charcoal is laughing at her.
he cackles and coughs and chokes on his saliva.
a bottle slips through knotted old knuckles
glass bursts on the page, and the slivers shimmer silver
her breathing is fast now but she takes her time
as she gets to her feet, and she crosses the hall
and she gingerly lifts the dilapidated frame
from the cracked, peeling paint on the ramshackle wall
she can't even hear the flies anymore,
their tellings nothing more than an inaudible shiver
her thick, paper heartbeat is loud in her head,
now there's glass everywhere and she starts to see red
as the wine spills down her arms
and her cheeks and her nails
and the laughter shrieks louder as she bleeds on the paper
and now all the shredded scraps litter the floor,
she drops dead to the ground,
and the man is no more.