by Brian Clifton
In the back, a Formica table waits
on off-white industrial tile. We clock-
out, pull paperclips from our throats:
purple ones, yellow ones, metallic, pink.
Our mouths never seem satisfied.
We cough them up enough in jagged
convulsions for our fingers to work
out like loose teeth. Our ritual piles
every example of unbent paperclips
on the Formica table in the back.
Such is our breaks. We want the pile
to grow so large it spills off the table
but this requires more paperclips
than the amount we have managed
to expel from our bodies already.
We need new mouths to mine,
to set in the approximate motion
of vomiting—a bolus that turns
into a swarm, a wave, a knocking,
a riot, a fist, a slow boil, a bulge,
a fit of lightning strikes vying
to collapse this table in the back
with ritual, to stab this giant
with a spear made of filed rebar.
Brian Clifton can be found in PANK!, burntdistrict, Juked, and The Laurel Review. He lives in Kansas City Missouri and edits an online magazine, Bear Review.