Sinus Pressure by Carrie Conners

is a euphemism for being afraid to fall asleep (even if you could, which you can’t) because you just know that one or both of your eyeballs could shoot out of your head at any second. It’s not necessarily that you’re frightened of this event, you’ve always been fascinated that your eyes are attached to you by a thin string of nerves like the ball on a paddle toy, you just want to be awake when it happens. For years you’ve secretly loved those scenes in action movies when someone, usually in space or on a deep-sea vessel, enters a pressured environment and his eyes start to bulge out like an angry cartoon villain foiled again. You anticipate the jack-in-the-box finale, but it rarely transpires. These flicks suddenly become conservative, hung up on not seeming too over-the-top, despite CG leviathans or three-breasted purple aliens traipsing around. Disappointing. The deep sea isn’t concerned with believability. Fangy eels and demon spawn fish neon the dark like glow sticks at a rave. All the pressure down there seems liberating, the polka-dotted squid aren’t concerned about seeming gauche. They just put on their freak show to the tune of the giant tube worms organ-piping the music of the deep.

Carrie Conners, originally from West Virginia, lives in Brooklyn where she teaches creative writing, literature, and composition. Her poetry has appeared in DMQ Review, Cider Press Review, Steel Toe Review, Aji Magazine, and RHINO, among other publications.