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Delani Valin is a writer living in a sleepy Canadian valley. She enjoys vegan cookery, indoor gardening, and petting dogs. Her poetry is forthcoming in Adbusters Magazine and Soliloquies Anthology, and she has previously been published in Beautiful Minds Magazine and Portal. She blogs at dualmindguide.wordpress.com.

By Delani Valin

Ride the subterranean slug that slips from station to station while the passengers squirm beside you. Drink the burnt blend of beans from the sacred Styrofoam vessel and keep your eyes open. Stay alert: the wondering prophets in tattered, stained sweaters will ask for offerings and you must apologize to them without meeting their gaze.

The slug will stop to let you out of its belly and you will clamber up to the surface still smelling of its entrails.

Light. The brightness burns your retinas as you scan your pockets with fervent fingertips for the ritual pack. Light. And draw the smoke inside of you before pacing on the concrete spine of the city.

There are roaring beasts thirsting for the liquefied bones of their ancestors speeding up beside you, but pay no mind. Yours is a short walk in too-tight shoes towards a vast arena of effigies for sale.

Sidestep the rainbow puddles distorting your reflection: you in the drab black clothing your cult demands you wear. You with the prosthetic smile and the noise-umbilical cords delivering auditory sustenance at one-hundred-and-forty beats per minute. You, afraid at the penance you will face if you are not punctual.

Reach the sales arena and recede into the congregation. The noise of bartering and bargaining barely masking music that beats down like a chant.

Nod to your perpetually tired leader. Clip your name to your chest. You could be Albert, Andra, Kendrick, Preeya, Simon, Shandra. We are all the same here. We are all one.

So step out and sell that smile.