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The swirls at the foot of the bed
have returned.
I dread the blanket of sleep.
Male, always male,
they invade my room
masquerading as shadow puppets
on the front wall
with the incoming streetlight.

Rabbit-eared and whispering
they congregate in secret burrows.
Who to trust. Who to believe.
A Roman Catholic priest,
a couple of witches, my shaman friend
who removes malignant entities.
The least helpful―an atheist.

What to do in the interim. What to
do before I’m sleepwalking again
on the 11th floor—prayers, ritual, fumigation,
Palo Santo, Lesser Banishing,
Epsom salts bath.

And then a demon speaks, oracularly:
Cruel she-wolf, bestial bedfellow,
this is what happens when you are
made inexplicable.
The hound licking its infernal wound,
fur splayed in all directions.
Carve my name on a copper pentacle
or be damned!

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