The Hollows

for Real Toads “Tuesday Platform.”

This poem is based on a dream I had. I am both freaked out and excited, as a writer. 

The city in my brain when I sleep

has wide black-outs the size of

my fragmented memories. I pedal down

an alley where dirty wash buckets

get dumped out open windows above

the Section 8 apartments we

so frequently took shelter in.

These alleys are crowded and huddled—a

fictitious labyrinth but still I am fooled

into believing its constancy because of

the telephone wires and iron fire escapes.

A man at a crate, wearing overalls and a red

bandana smiles his drunken grin, scratching

his bulbous purple nose, whisking out a tissue

from a bony wrist, something familiar,

a vague scent of lilac. Something about the speed

in a humming bird’s wings, rust and oil

and tractor parts fill my head. Honeysuckle.

Yes; my father called him “Pa.”

I turn what must be southwest

judging by the sunlight glaring,

but I am not sure. Then a block down

and right—a Parisian-like corner where

the next alley intersects. Buckets

and barrels of flowers, palette displays

and chalked prices. I pedal slower.

Round soft women in purple and daffodil,

berry-stained lips and a lavender water

scent that makes me feel warm,

like the sound of my grandmother, how she

used to say I sang beautifully. She had shells

on her wallpaper in the bathroom.

Beautifully

Beautiful. In the recesses of my brain, that

specific word signals my amygdala to

get out the boxing gloves or take flight,

and then Paris disappears because of this warning,

the alley swallows me up in darkness

and into an end once the word “beautiful

grabs a hold of me, ringing in my ears

the way it did when he called me that

when I was a little girl. Not even in dreams

do we escape childhood.

This end is a brick wall, graffiti-filled and strewn

with Find Jesus and Bob Marley posters;

I turn my bike away, back toward light, an anxiety

starting to glow in my gut.

I hit a different center now, where four alleys meet,

these are all alleys now, and I choose—with “beautiful”

still hanging on my lips like a stale cigarette—to turn south.

Southeast. Cobblestone and puddles. This alley

is quiet and I feel the need to turn, but the walls

on the sides are narrowing.

My thighs just scuffing the plaster. I look ahead

because it’s too late to turn around—no room—and

I see the path before me going on and on like a tunnel

with shafts of light, then shadow, light, then shadow

where unnamed dead-end streets cross but I can’t

seem to get to them. A cracked hand

reaches out a glassless window and cold porcelain

knocks against my knuckle. I am picking up speed but

look back to see what it was, and when I turn forward

again, my bike wobbling, another white porcelain

girl. This one has a doll’s face that is white and cracked,

glued or fastened together, her head full of holes

where doll hair used to be, I back on the pedals Read More

The Lonesome Dream by Lisel Mueller

I wanted to share this awesome poem by Lisel Mueller I found in her Pulitzer Prize winning book I bought called Alive Together: New and Selected Poems.  Here goes

THE LONESOME DREAM

In the America of the dream

the first rise of the moon

swings free of the ocean,

and she reigns in her shining flesh

over a good, great valley

of plumed, untrampled grasses

and beasts with solemn eyes,

of lovers infallibly pitched

in their ascendant phase.

 

In this America, death

is virginal also, roaming

the good, great valley

in his huge boots, his shadow

steady and lean, his pistol

silver, his greeting clear

and courteous as a stranger’s

who looks for another, a mind

to share his peaceable evenings.

 

Dreaming, we are another

race than the one which wakes

in the cold sweat of fear,

fires wild shots at death,

builds slippery towers of glass

to head him off, waylays him

with alcohol traps, rides him down

in canyons of sex, and hides

in teetering ghost towns.

 

Dreaming, we are the mad

who swear by the blood of trees

and speak with the tongues of streams

through props of steel and sawdust,

a colony of souls

ravaged by visions, bound

to some wild, secret cove

not yet possessed, a place

still innocent in us.

 

—Lisel Mueller