Janitor's Ghost

the navy robed shadow drags his drenched boots,
he cascades like a stick figure under the dome
eating itself up.
his mouth is stuffed with hardened bread,
it falls off his skin like the wall peeling itself down,
in abandoned buildings its always fall.

stiff toothless jaw, clenched toes-
nails that look like beaten up plastic;
dust has a habit of settling, things that happen once,
have a habit of happening again;
people that break,
have a habit of breaking easily.
i stick myself to the walls,
while he goes around mopping my face angrily.
the spiders on the wall crawl up- i let my knees slide on the floor;
this building has been empty for eleven years, or so.

his broom eyes me like a nemesis. i have a habit of
lingering, now he lets me mark my territory-
this corner is left unswept. the old man evaporating
into his wooden chair with loosely hammered nails
looks at me, most days he unsees the cobwebs on my face.

every few weeks he sits across my cross legged carcass
only to watch my clattering teeth breathe-
i upset the shine on these walls,
but he lets me be
like an abandoned museum,
checked only for door chains.

i clutch the nimble breaths on my chest, tenant-less cobwebs are
settling on my skin; empty homes feel familiar to my nails.

i keep peeling off skin, like a bubble wrap filled with blood;
with fingers like untamed shovels you throw dirt
on yourself till you gather enough for a generation of tombs.

i roll up my shroud and stitch it into a pillow,
filled with feeble rocks. i stare at the dull ceiling,
idly tracing rings around the lesions on my wrists;
four pink walls grow on my face like quiet hysteria.

my bones cave in like loosely hanging dolls of ash,
its always raining, my weather dolls soak themselves in blood;
my skin unsettles itself like an intruder, my face
looks like a bad whitewash, the curses on the wall shimmer in
bright light; churning out corpses- like an accident prone area.

marching ants with flashlights, they crawl on my skin-
their flashlights are tuscan suns bulging out of breathing tombs-
smearing mustard blood on my face.
the air keeps falling to the ground with visible rot,
i lie on the floor to lick off a breath;
crawling with a termite’s eyes my limbs swell up with the
smell of damp wood; the tired sun is sinking under the floor.

today is like most days - the only people left are framed;
the stage keeps setting itself up
but the puppets are dead and the strings are stiff like my bones.

what matters is the chandelier
loosely hanging on your head.

meenal jhajharia