Prosaic Dream

You are not in
her dream—merely fragments left
behind to prove

you were here. A small sketchbook,
a pair of socks, one
thick glove, a trace

of your carefully constructed
thought. She handles
the sketchbook but

finds an old-fashioned band
flyer with a letter scrawled
on the back

more appealing. Scans
the words—sees her name
near the bottom of the page. Slanted

forward. You know what
they say about that. And then

she wakes up. No idea
what the letter said
about her or who

it was addressed to. It’s 20 below,
and the cat’s licking bedroom
window blinds again.

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Last Night the Moon Was Full

And this white shirt
with stick figure faces
wrapping around the sleeves
could only be an icebreaker
in an early morning
dream. Your mother says

I need a man’s opinion. I say,
remember the dilapidated white house
with that front porch reduced
to a stoop where your sister lived
her first year of college? That’s how
you know me—I lived there

too. And now (because it’s one
of those unfolding at civil
dawn) your mother drives us
to a farmstead you recognize. I don’t.
A few thousand miles west
of that house. You’re someone’s brother

and still
you rest your hand
over mine as if
to say it’s going to be
okay. I wake before I can
reply, how do you know.

Fever Dreams

Two turtles sleep
at the entrance
to a subway escalator
that only goes

up. Someone says
they’re hung
over. I don’t believe
him. Suddenly they show

their heads, then legs,
then crawl away. End
of scene—onto that subway
I only see

in dreams. Couldn’t recognize
who was riding
with me this time.
Could have been you.

REM Kiosk

A dream is only as true
as its recounting. Insert stalks

of wheatgrass embedded
in translucent partitions

for accent. An ocean
spilling forth on all sides

gets pulled inside
out to become a Midwestern

lake not frozen enough
to hold those images

of ice fishers under
glass. You shake

yourself awake
to make up

what you won’t remember
one hour into it.

Surreal Ocean

Tide rises from all sides—this surround
won’t bring back my father’s words of advice.
In a dream, I refuse to walk along the granite bluff
with my sisters—this is no return to Ireland. This is

what gets made
up before dawn closer to the Mississippi
than any hint of salt. Pastels
on sleeves—watercolors in the sky—pollution

at dusk—can’t have a January
thaw without a frozen
plain. A surreal ocean
comes to mind.

Lysistrata Dreaming

Not one of your death wish missions
into another war torn land. This is mine:

a summer night dream, sweaty
without covers. The things we used to do

together—drink, run, get naked
in waterfalls, have sex, smoke years later—I don’t do

anymore. A Greek island, Southern Portugal, somewhere
in the middle

of Connecticut. The unconscious doesn’t bother
with these details. Do you want me

to break my vows? You have some of your own.
You were never really free. I might break

down inside this scene if
I could see the right water

fall after dark—no Mississippi River icon,
Niagara Falls, Icelandic wonder, rain playing blues

harp on a Cape Cod cottage roof. No.
Would need to be off

a back road near no one
and nothing left at all before I wake.

Arch

His brows came to me
in an early morning

dream—the phase between involuntary
twitching and vision adjusting

to new light. What was irresistible
becomes grotesque. Even I have limits

to exaggeration. My love is
not exponential.

Some of it becomes invisible. Still,
I am pleased to open

my eyes to engage expressions
as they appear.

Day 3,102

Rape or fantasy, a cat swimming
or drowning
in a river with no name. It had a name
I couldn’t remember as the dream drained

out. Comedians recite poetry—I can’t
write the words cancer, blood, weapon. No
courage. The very subjects I avoid
are the ones I should be wrestling

to the warm, dry ground.
For now, a French speaking club takes over
the coffee bar. And this corner
speaks to me without fear.

1991: A Poem

Dream. Premonition. Mortality
begins now. I give him an anecdote
in a letter—he’ll never receive
my gift. If equilibrium exists, where’s my

ecstasy? My sister and I watch boats go
up and down the terrifyingly calm

Cuyahoga. Aboard the floating
Heartbreak Hotel, it’s all so close—
the banks of the river, a rail bridge ahead, the crushing
of fantasies. But it doesn’t happen

that way. The world begins to tip in a slowed motion. Sights
and sounds expand beyond their original limits. I watch

from another planet as he walks up the aisle. A kiss,
a hand in hand. Shall I be so bold
as to ask you? He asks. We kiss
as if the elevator door would never open again. Lovely

feet and hands. Brown eyes that turn cloudy
green or bottomless black at will—not his. When

he makes love, he talks. He loves
those vocal chords. I retreat
to the lobby bathroom to check
if I’m still wearing

my own skin. Is it mine? Still? Indeed.
Gravity is overrated.