Deep in the woods,

I make my daily journey

Nobody has found me yet,

although they know I like

to set my toys aflame,

burning plastic

in the basement


I have to light fires

to douse my anger,

to destroy and conquer,

to avoid the pain

of being burned

by the end of a cigarette


I need to feed the flames,

see its blackness reach the sky,

and watch myself get charred and burned,

so I don’t feel deprived


My mother thinks

that it’s a stage I’m going through,

while my therapist believes it’s far worse,

like I’ve been exposed, somehow,

to a stranger in the middle of the night

or a man who whips me with a belt


I’m confused—

I don’t know what to feel

There’s a dullness in my head

that I can’t let go,

a tear that I can’t mend

I look for a match

to light up the world,

and repair what’s broken.



Mark Tulin is a former therapist from Philadelphia who lives in Ventura, California. A publisher once compared his work to artist Edward Hopper on how he grasps unusual aspects of people. Mark books include Magical Yogis, Awkward Grace, The Asthmatic Kid and Other Stories, available at Amazon. Mark has appeared in Vita Brevis Press, Amethyst Review, Underwood Press, The Poetry Village, Page and Spine, Fiction on the Web, Terror House Magazine, Temptation Press, Poppy Road Review, Visitant, The Writing Disorder, Oddball Magazine, New Readers Magazine, as well as anthologies and podcasts.