Two days before the festival, the arsonist
placed all of his equipment in a neat row on
the windowsill. There was his lighter fluid, his
box of matches, his balaclava and his fire
proof gloves. He sat back on the bed and
admired his tools, then rose and stood straight
as a column, arms clenched to his sides, tilted
his head to the left and closed his eyes. In this
way, he became the bottle of lighter fluid.
Next, he sliced up his gloves with some
kitchen scissors, found a needle and thread,
and sewed the fire proof material to the skin of
his hands. In this way, he became the gloves.
Feeling emboldened by his success, he raised
the scissors to his mouth and cut off his lips,
then used his thumbs to gouge out both his
eyes. In this way he became the balaclava.
Finally, he ran outside into the road and
rubbed his head against the tarmac until his
scalp hung from his skull. A bloody mess. In
this way he became the match. Hot pearls
burned his cheeks and filled up the eyeholes
of his balaclava. The fire proof skin of his
hands became saturated with blood. His neck
seized in a constant tilt, pouring its fluid onto
the ground. His head hung open to the
steaming air. Only now was he ready for the
festival. And all of this had only taken half an
James Roome works as an English teacher in Manchester, UK. His work has appeared in Magma, Tears in the Fence, and recently placed second in the University of Hertfordshire single poem prize. His first chapbook, Bull, is out now from The Red Ceilings Press and was a Poetry Book Society pamphlet selection for summer 2019 .