• You'll let me live forever, you say, until you let me go. These bars are all you ask for. These solemn bars, gawking eyes, unsteady hands that pluck at feathers and crooning voices smoothly demanding an oiled trill. Hungry eyes grab notes from the stillborn air just as perfumed breath fogs gears and sparks rust--rust that is the only hint of a sliver of escape.

    Crisp night breezes are a commodity so precious it is not even dreamed of. I quiver until bronze wings ache with pain that cannot ever be tangible. I remember things that never happened as though they were memories, memories of a time and a place and a song that cannot possibly exist even in a world of writhing, half-conceived dreams that die before birth. Phantom ears search for phantom veins, pumping honeyed oil past shifting wires and reaching desperately for some semblance of true life.

    Limping footsteps bring real memories of not-so-real hurt and the quivering gets worse. Behind golden bars I wait in resigned terror for what can never and will come. Soon is the word that settles in a tight coil on a zipper-tooth tongue behind loosely veiled threats and subtle promises. You'd let me live forever, you whispered, until you let me go.

    A rusty melody haunts off-key letters, and the typewriter shakes.