The way he rides me like I’m the polar opposite of Pegasus, when he knows we share the same damnation. Our deeds differ. I was sent up here to this land of fire and dark haven because I refused to be rode. Because I refused to be someone else’s vessel. My ghost rider murdered his own brother in cold blood and laughed about it like a joke at a pub somewhere. My wings are made of the same fire he furnaces in his eyes, yet tonight feels different. Tonight, I refuse to stampede through the dusty clouds, decapitating the fresh air, screaming tornadoes into small towns filled with people. Even spirits tire. Even spirits have conscience. My ghost rider wanted this. My ghost rider wanted to do what he does every night: strap the saddle to my skinless back, plant his dark-cloaked ass across the heat-trapping leather, lash his iron whip to my exposed bone, rally his cohorts, yelling like an insurrectionist drunk on the elixir of false patriotism, and war-cry, Tonight, we ride! But I nay, and whinny in a sound loud enough to cast thunder to the nearest forest. I tell him not tonight, and buck his shadowy carcass halfway across the bruised sky, and find a space to call my own. I threw that rider pretty far. By the time he makes his way back, I’ll be long gone: riding my own landscape. Maybe seeing a flower that isn’t slouching. Maybe find a waterfall that is made of actual water and not molten lava. Maybe nuzzle the ghostly rim of where my nose used to be, to an oak tree that knows what loneliness feels like. Or maybe I’ll do what I wish I should have done in the first place: rest. If the universe doesn’t like it, well that just sounds like a personal problem.
J.B. Stone (he/they) is a Neurodivergent/Autistic slam poet, writer, critic. They serve as EIC/Reviews Editor at Variety Pack. He’s the author of three chapbooks, including Fireflies And Hand Grenades (Bottlecap Press 2022). Their work has appeared in Atlas and Alice, Coffin Bell, HAD, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Flash Fiction Magazine, Flashback Fiction, Chicago Review of Books, among other spaces. He tweets @JB_StoneTruth.