|Jan/Feb 2002 • Poetry|
Dreams & Wishes & the Plain Truth
The man you dreamed up
was like an animal, a confused,
restless animal that didn't know
what it was. From one angle,
it looked graceful. Other times,
it bobbled and bumped in the night
like a blind cow. It had to be fed, and often.
You never knew what it would fancy--
sometimes plain mash, once in a while
something with a burnt sugar crust,
and lots of whipped cream. It made noise
constantly. Whistling, burring, keening,
but never in the same way twice.
You found yourself wishing
it would run away of its own accord--
since it was so unusual no one would take it
off your hands. It would look at you
out of eyes so swollen and pale
you'd think it was dying,
then it would kick back its head
and bray and bray, music, ringing
through your ears like jittery strips of tin.
After a while, you wanted to kill it.
Go play in traffic, you screamed,
don't speak in metaphor, don't scratch
until you make scars. The shabby quilts
where it nested called out for mercy.
Still, you hissed, Do something with your life!