I take a slug, and let it hang. A small wad of fire, shaped just like the inside of my mouth. It’s only hot at the front. The rest is a soothing numb; it takes on the color of my palate. I like to let it hang, like a glacier, momentarily inert, at any moment inert, yet the power, the potential energy, to grind down and till at the esophagus, to grind at the lining of my gut, at the invisible fence I have armed around my volition, at the sensitive workings of my bowels. My teeth clench in measure for the next shot reading some unrattled bar of snare drum sheet the timbre too much to bear agape and so I flood the void again.
This one turns the nose up and a small gurgle of air drawn through pursed lips over the caustic lake within and makes it ripple. Pulled taut cheeks swells the level towards overflow and the line of my lip between usually wet and usually dry burns and crackles. A lump of tarnished brass, cool and rough and inflexible and wedged against my ribs. My mettle.
The morning is a wash. Awake spun in the sweaty afterbirth of dreams, ill-aligned to the camber of my bed, dull lumbar ache that can’t be pulled out. Aviators at breakfast, rice crispies slop in milk and my gullet is working overtime directing traffic. It’s almost noon before I put on pants. The same pants I wore yesterday, the same stubble on my face, the same heartburn as always, the same day.