The Dream(s)

Last night I dreamed one thousand lies.

It started with the death of my brother. First he perished in a twisted ball of metal and fire. I wasn’t there, but it was in me — I felt it in the heart of me. My blind eyes saw the vacant black asphalt reflected in the glassy stare of his coffee-brown eyes. My sleeping arms started at the sudden sting of shattered windshield and we rolled and rolled and rolled together before resting downside up. I did not feel the flames but I watched as ribbons of brilliant yellow-orange devoured his coarse brown hair and freckle-spotted cheeks. This was his first death: quick but agonizing.

Next he died face-up in the basement of a new friend’s house: his lips a faint blue with the dried remains of vomit hidden just behind his teeth. He whispered to me slow, but my ears were asleep and I did not hear words; only incomplete sounds. At least his eyes were closed and guarded by thick black lashes from whatever came next.

Then he was whole, a perfect nuisance with his consciously relaxed posture and arrogant smirk — his stare both burning and jovial at the same time. He was whole, and then there was a hole, in his gut, just off to the side of his navel. From the hole a great scarlet flower bloomed, spreading its virulent leaves in hyperlapse fashion. The flower spread within him, too, and though I could not see at first I soon noticed a curled leaf eking its way out of the part between his lips: brilliant and garish against the dusty rose of his mouth. My phantom hand reached for this flower and instead brushed against the slick surface of a wall.

Painted eggshell and pocked with shallow dings here and there, the mostly-smooth surface seized my arm and led me away. I sat up abruptly, lungs grabbing desperately for real air (not that stuff of dream worlds), and I could finally see.

There were no scarlet flowers, there was no shattering of glass, there was no muffled murmur. Only the tepid air of the enclosed bedroom and the too-loud chirruping of crickets just beyond the narrow wall.


On This Day

on this day, the day after —
i probably woke a bit later, sleep
clinging to my lids,
desperate for just
of sleep —
tired still: the day before a garbled mess
of somber, tear-jerky anchors’ voices
panicked, grainy videos of
steely twin splinters vomiting up great clouds of cauliflower smoke
ash that covered bridges, manikins, golden retrievers,
even the sun.

i swallowed a pop-tart (cinnamon brown sugar) while
one thousand, three hundred fifty-three miles away
a girl swallowed a lump in her throat, an apricot pit,
as she waited in the armchair with the worn-smooth brown arms
for the person whose arms had done the smooth-wearing, the man who
chewed hot tamales for breakfast and sang made-up songs that embarrassed her.

i stood at the bottom of a hill waiting on a bus while
one thousand, three hundred fifty-three miles away
a man inhaled grit that clung to a throat scratchy with howled promises of rescue
and obedience to a god and anything, really, to argue with his brother just

i waited in line at the lunch room, probably tuna casserole, while
one thousand, three hundred fifty-three miles away
a woman sat on a sofa covered with the ash and dust of 220 steel floors
and looked at the same tv images
over and over
and over
without ever really seeing anything but her twenty-four children
and their dust-coated backpacks
and the newly vacant seats at their dinner tables
and the whimper in their voices
and the whites of their eyes.

on this day, the day after —
i probably did not yet know that the great clouds of cauliflower smoke
still hesitated in the sky, more fog than vegetable
and ash still hung draped like a blanket over park benches and coffee mugs,
even — still — the sun;
and the ash-fog would hang over the sky
and the rooftops
and the people
many sunrises and sets after.


The Craftsman

smooth, broad nails set deep,
fingers crusted (Titebond III):
hands of a master.

the thrum of a lathe,
soft tendrils coil, pile, bury;
edges redefined.

homemade concoction:
acrid lacquer bites nostrils–
now, a waxy sheen.

curved flesh and muscle,
a backdrop of planned angles:
man and craft blended.

infinite dust motes
cling to forearms, lashes, jaw:
garb of the master.