dry hot scraping rust, unbreathable, stopping up your throat until you can hardly manage a whisper. and they say, use your own voice, use your own sounds but it’s no use. there are many more hands around your neck -- real or fake. spend 8 hours a day at it. 12 if you have to, many more if you’re lucky. you want to be a muse for the one you know should be inspiring you. but you’ve stopped trying. stopped reflecting. stopped feeling. a lethargic puny scum choking yourself through the thought, the mere thought, of rust. the inescapable dryness of it. the unholy appearance of its surface like crusty ridges hardening into one another in the dark. in the wet. naked, neglected metal. you hear the sounds of two cars scraping up against each other, unraveling the paint off the sides to reveal the hot sharp layer beneath. you choke up because you then feel the whole chalkboard against your nails, taste the thick spice without any liquid respite nearby. you curl your fingers in so the nails sink into your flesh but that doesn’t help either. from the backseat on the drive home, home to your native land, you can only feel the screeching scrape of every car out there burning up against yours as your seatbelt closes in, clutching at your throat.