3 Episodes by Sara Lieto

black and white image of shadowy snakes forming the shape of a head with eyes peering out

An Episode in Which My Sleep Paralysis Demon Cooks Me Breakfast In The Kitchen of My Chest

I am pinned awake / she shuffles through pans / grabs the ceramic one / beats eggs / rests
coated whisk on my collar bone / hums to herself / flicks pilot into flame beneath the
hollow disk of burner / my chest burning / her elbows digging into counter / wet spatula
grazing my sternum / yolks poured onto heat / omelette stiffening / frying pan spitting /
my lungs oxidizing / me, softening / in a bowl of sweat / steaming / I don’t want / I don’t
want to be mothered / or to be a hungerless body / inside a dark room / She plates creation
/ pulls doors open, searching for fork and knife / shutting cabinets / sliding drawers /
I attempt to turn away / any way / but meet her closeness / her hand holding / a slice of
meal / moving toward my mouth / I want / I think I want / to eat or to be fed / or to open
up into her / before she cleans our full sink / soapy hands / coarse sponge / draining water
/ my neck, a splash guard / our dishes resting against my diaphragm / our dishes left to dry
inside me

An Episode In Which My Sleep Paralysis Demon Changes the Lightbulbs Above My Bed

obviously I do not want to lay awake under fluorescence
or supervise a demon completing a menial task made easier

by her ability to levitate / obviously I could stand on the bed,
replace, re-turn, at any time, any tomorrow, whenever I want /

obviously I want to lay in darkness, to ask her to stop winding glass
sun into my good-enough ceiling / obviously I do

not want to watch her father light or play bedroom God or take
responsibility for illuminating a room of clutter and our faces /

obviously I do not want to collaborate with her only to see my body
screwed in place (even if, when awake, I do turn in and out: a bulb,

churning into sockets. even if, when awake, my hands do shine other
hands into tenderness) / obviously I want her

to stop circling above me, to leave what was vacant still and waiting
for its turn / obviously she wants me most

incandescent and then also to confess, through my inertia,
that obviously Gods are not the only source of our light

An Episode In Which My Sleep Paralysis Demon Tells Me This Metaphor Is Trite

she is tired of hovering above me / tired of drifting between slashes and nightmares /
between my body and my ceiling / tired of playing mounted mirror / lucid gag / journal
prompt / incomplete CBT worksheet / fluoxetine side effect / involuntary flashback /
methylphenidate quiver / grounding technique / the three things I see / the three things I
hear / qualifier for diagnosis / tired of how deliberately I stay still / how I tuck myself into
panic / how activated is a bed I choose to sleep in / how I allow her into my bedroom when
I know she is an episode / how I summon her through my nerves / through my poems / beg
her to coax me motionless / she is tired / of no compensation / of no conversation / of the
word demon / of paralysing / she is tired / of being realized / only in between
consciousness and dream / of how, in the morning, I exist without her

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Based in Brooklyn, NY, Sara Lieto (she/her) is a queer poet and software engineer, but mostly just a huge nerd who likes to build things with words. She’s especially inspired by very loud punk music, her two cats, and biking around the city. You can find her online at https://www.sararoselieto.com.

Tiffany Mallery is an illustrator currently based out of Boston. She’s done work for editorial clients including NPR, Thrillist, &  Zora to name a few, and has dipped her toes in the realm of comics and self-publishing, printing zines and comics about crushes, tennis, being lost in space, and whatever else her little heart desires. When not making art, she can be found reading manga, thinking about the infinite and fearsome wonder of space, and/or working at her day job. Her work and contact info can be found at www.tiffanyillustrating.com or @notiffanyno on Instagram.

This month’s special issue, “EVERY GHOST STORY IS A LOVE STORY,” was guest edited by Melissa Lozada-Oliva. Melissa is the author of peluda (Button Poetry 2017) and Dreaming of You (Astra House, October 2021). Her work has been featured in the Yale Review, Harper’s Bazaar, Vulture, and BBC Mundo. She cohosts a podcast called Say More with Olivia Gatwood. She holds an MFA from NYU and lives in New York City. @ellomelissa.