The Man in the Iron Lung

I scream
The body electric,
This yellow, metal, pulsing cylinder
Whooshing all day, all night
In its repetitive dumb mechanical rhythm.
Rudely, it inserts itself in the map of my body,
Which my midnight mind,
Dream-drenched cartographer of terra incognita,
Draws upon the dark parchment of sleep.
I scream
In my body electric;
A dream snake bites my left leg.
Indignant, I shake the gods by their abrupt shoulders,
Demanding to know how such a vile slitherer
Could enter my serene metal shell.
The snake is punished with death,
The specialty of the gods.
Clamp-jawed still in my leg,
It must be removed;
The dream of the snake
Must be removed,
While I am restored
By Consciousness, that cruelest of gods,
In metal hard reluctance
To my limited, awkward, déclasé
Body electric,
As it whispers promises of health,
Whooshes beautiful lies of invulnerability,
Sighs sibilantly, seraphically, relentlessly:
It is me,
It is me.

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