Oct/Nov 2002 Poetry Special Feature

Dream after Reading Dramatic Monologues

by Chris Murray

Artwork by Tara Gilbert-Brever


Dream after Reading Dramatic Monologues

changeling... and just full of things
you can't even put your finger on
--Ai, "Sunday"


I. I am Driving in Reverse

It's not that I don't remember you or your name. You work for a Dallas grocer. "Rescued," you correct me, from "stocking shelves with more cashew jars than the happiest minority known could ever want. Better than a Texas blue bonnet--Credit is--oh, a much better arrangement," you tell me, tapping in my I. D.

But there's more I want to ask you, for instance, about everyday life and who decides what "majority" and "minority" mean? And, how did you get here from the grocer's-- with your Circean smile--driving with me in my 1987? I remember this road but I never drove it this fast in reverse. But do we see the same, here?--crumbling rock, flooded ditch, either side. Yes, I know it's my dream.

But, Girl, how would I know how we got here?


II. Trying to Have a Conversation

It does look like I don't mind you
being here, though. And, why wouldn't I
like you? No, it's that I'm also trying not to
stutter off this graded road
but you

keep right on talking, buttery ethos
of an unsalted cashew. Girl, wise up. You say
everything that comes to mind,
to anyone, so certain it's
all true.

For instance, "She couldn't be rescued."
As in, your mother slowly drinking her spirits,
drinking herself dead in life. Then quitting, buoyant
as a granny bonnet of clichés:
"This, too,

shall pass!" Now your chorus of Cassandra Don'ts
defining everything against itself:
"I don't ever listen
to her--I
don't go

there! Don't cross that bridge! Don't forget the happiest
minority known has to be the living,"
while in the rear view mirror
one of your eyes angles more Odyssean than your


III. We've Just Arrived

Now I suppose you're looking for a few good men          in sheep's clothing--

to be rescued, finally--          though we've just arrived

at a mall.          You're sitting for a faux grainy portrait--

smiling girl in cashew color          gelatin silver plate: a little Manifest

Destiny bonnet calicoed around your face.          You laugh as they tell you

to laugh.          "Laugh lady-like, laugh like the sound of a thousand and one

Penelopes waiting          --that patient minority among women--

weaving and unraveling.          Good.           Again, now."

"Oh sure," you say,          "anyone can do that--

read my nametag."          "Oh, sure," I say,

remembering how much          I only wanted to hear how you say it.


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