2 Poems | Lucas Scheelk

My Relationship With Fire As Someone Who Self Harms


I don’t know which came first

My preference for marshmallows engulfed by the flame,
Completely burned before finally blowing it out.
Onlookers comment on the state of the marshmallows and
Very few can relate.


My preference for cremation.

My ashes will be scattered at the start of the Mississippi River.
A fond memory included trips to Itasca State Park
With my fellow autistic friends from Camp Discovery.

Both appeared before age 10.


I can count on one hand
How often I went camping
Since the beginning of my adolescence,

Two hands, when it comes to
Purposefully burning marshmallows,


Making its first arrival in my early 20s
My preference for burning.

My skin holds the record for the world’s slowest cremation.


27 years old

I struggle to stay clean from burning.

I have 5 healed wounds and
One wound currently healing.

27 years old

I still wish to be cremated.

Half of my ashes will remain at the Mississippi River.

The other half will be scattered at
Jeremy Brett’s Memorial Tree in Clapham Common.
Fond memories include many conversations with Jeremy’s spirit
During my Fall 2013 semester in London.
I found comfort in a dead man while
Running from living ones.

A not-so-subtle attempt at a will;
Some might claim illegitimacy, but
I hope to not use this for a very long time.

27 years old

I can’t remember the last time I went camping.
I find marshmallows too sticky to touch,
A developing sensory issue.


The thought of branding is terrifying.
To me, branding would be relapsing.

One instance of fire wand streaking was indescribable,
But it is not readily accessible.

I don’t know if my feet are strong enough for fire walking.

Lighters and matches are no friends of mine,
Like with a weight scale, I cannot
Safely share the same space.

Stovetop cooking means making pasta. Survival.

Electric kettles served a purpose in Winter 2014,
Staving off urges to burn by placing my fingers against it,
In secrecy, away from my then 6 roommates and one partner.
I’ve since turned its purpose back to making tea.

I’ve never been a tobacco smoker so
Cigarettes don’t trigger that urge,
They just create an inability for me to breathe.

I watched a Buzzfeed video once of
People trying fire cupping as a therapeutic method.
A part of me wants to try it but then
I might have to be shirtless.
A stranger would notice my top surgery scars over
My burns, but my mind believes the reverse.


There is not enough rain in all the world that will take the fire away. But glitter knows I seek out thunderstorms to convince myself otherwise.



Inked above my left ankle,
Clyde (the tortoise) takes his time approaching the heel,
Near the scene of the crime – the product of self-loathing,
Where I am the guilty suspect.

Clyde’s mission is clear.

He is a counterbalance to skin cells and nerves lost,
To pulling oneself out of shock, to fears of infection a month after,
To near hospitalization at the mention of being autistic,
To trauma, to flashbacks, and to continuous isolation.

“He is the ambulance.” *

I watch Clyde (when the shame resurfaces).

I smile (and touch his red cross).

I smile (as Clyde is complimented by others).

I laugh (at the times I hide his head with my sock).

I remember (the origins – his, and ours, near the scene of the crime).

Now, only Sherlock Holmes would place Clyde in a city of locks.

Inked above my left ankle,
Clyde makes himself a permanent fixture,
A gift in the name of self-harm recovery.
* CBS Elementary, Season 1 Episode 19, “Snow Angels”

Lucas Scheelk is a white, autistic, queer, trans poet from the Twin Cities. Lucas uses he/him/his pronouns and they/them/their pronouns. His writing has appeared in publications such as Sibling Rivalry Press – Assaracus, Glitterwolf Magazine, THEM, Barking Sycamores, QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology, among others. His first poetry chapbook, “This Is A Clothespin”, releases on January 24th 2016 via Damaged Goods Press. You can reach Lucas on twitter (@TC221Bee) or on Facebook (Lucas Scheelk – Writer).


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