“He burned from the inside out, not the outside in. Now that’s real
proof that this phenomenon’s for real. And we’re all at risk.”
-Rick Barton (Director of the International ParaScience Center)
Maybe it begins as a singe, cinder
hissing from within, kindling beneath skin.
The flush must feel much like lust at first,
flicker-licks rippling concentric.
Or perhaps heat skulks in like a childhood
fever, caul-wrapping bonnets of fire.
Post-mortem pictures depict the same
grim room: its filth and fifth of gin, its Pall
Mall pack—one smoke left—curtains pulled
tight against noon. Even in photos, the reek
seeps through. Yellow on the window’s
sill, char-sweet on the carpet in plumes.
Every easy chair can be a pyre. No
matter, that our bodies are bodies
of water. Forget the bottles of rot-
gut, the acetone build-up. The barbiturates,
and the lit cigs blitzing house-dresses.
These flare-ups are spontaneous, impetuous
as all of us—bound for ash and about to burst.
– Erika Brumett