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My muse does not dance gleefully around bullet holes
or clear away the pain of old stab wounds.

Instead he crawls through them slowly
on scarred hands and weak, trembling knees,
infecting flesh and blood and soft tissue on the way.

As painful as it gets, there is no time for screaming.

He carries dark circles around his eyes
and shattered hopes in the corners of his lips,
weights that drag him down a little further each hour,
but sleep will not come in the presence of these ghosts.

Running his fingers through his hair,
he inhales new demons to replace the old weak ones.

He shakes his head firmly in protest, whispering,
“You can’t have me. I’m not dead yet.”