dream recorded October 2003
for Don Berman
Dark-eyed and with cheek bones carved
from coastal rock
the stranger sits there, elbows on the big meeting table,
staring into space
as if studying the distances within
a spider’s belly.
Later, responding dully to my question
about composing sermons, he looks at me
as a woman in black skirt and black breastplates enters
and flirts with him.
When I eye her, she mischievously returns my glance, then reconcentrates
on the pastor, her husband. Her face:
plump and linen-white with a mouth built to suck cock all night.
When did I leave that building, and why am I now
with my wife, son and daughter, and where did they come from?
Before exiting the city, we visit places
I can’t remember ever having seen before.
Finally, though, we’re gone. But something’s wrong. Although
we’ve supposedly abandoned the city for good,
no matter where we go
we’re still there, eventually ending up
in the apartment building in which the woman with breastplates lives, although
she isn’t there.
Trapped in an old third floor walkup crowded
with furniture dating back to before WWII, I study
the place’s decor, noting
the wallpaper flowers, too faded to remind anyone of how nose blood
landed on real geraniums when Billy’s dad
beat his mom in the park in the early 50s.
“I want to take a shower!” I announce to everyone,
then grow enraged when I can’t locate my clothes satchel.
“How can I take a shower if I don’t have clean underwear?” I yell.
I rummage through bureau drawers stuffed with other people’s clothes.
“It was the kids, they misplaced my underpants!” I rant
at my wife, unseen in another room.
The man with the rock cheekbones appears then. “What’s
going on here?” he wants to know, to which I lie
“Nothing,” after which he disappears again.
I go into the kitchen. It’s windowless and dark with big
silent cupboards nailed closed.
My daughter’s there. “This is all your fault!” she yells.
“Shut up!” I holler, then step toward her, grab her
by the shoulders and slam her against the wall.
She slides to the floor, looks up at me and remarks,
“Every time you drag us back to this dead place,
you go nuts and almost kill us all.”
Robert Bohm is a poet and culture writer. He was born in Queens, New York. His 2007 Uz Um War Moan Ode is available from Pudding House Press. Other credits include two other books, a chapbook and work published in a variety of print and online publications. More information on Bohm's work can be found at his blog, Lethal Injections for the Conditioned Mind, and his website, Unburials: The Writer as Graverobber. Click here for a selection of online publications from the last few years.