The Scapegoat by Adrian Silbernagel

I carry my vows
on my tongue so that I’ll choke
before I break one. Such sudden,
episodic deaths you’ve come to accept
as a fact of your life now, just as you’ve
accepted as facts my incurable sorrow
and my need to make and make
-believe. You know that I can’t help it
if the light from my computer screen
interrupts your REM cycle, if the cold
sweats I wake in you must also
wake in, if my dream city is populated
with doppelgangers of your exes
-turned-assassins I was born to obliterate.
You buy me camouflage pajamas
and a lucid dreaming instruction manual.
In the morning, you help me rinse
the blood from my hair and dragon wings,
just like you promised. I want to come
clean about fudging the death count
and dragging you into this worst of all
possible nightmares, but something deep
inside of me stutters, and just in time
the bough breaks.

Adrian Silbernagel
Adrian’s work has been published in The Columbia Review, Rufous City Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, PANK Magazine‘s “This Modern Writer Series,” and elsewhere. Visit his website: