Churches and Parties

I wish my old church was actually like this.

 

We attend a Halloween party

At my old church, the place

Lit orange and filled with guests.

We circle and drink, eat small

Appetizers, until it’s time to change

Into costumes – an event that

Scatters us all to rooms upstairs,

Cramped backstages and dark

Hallway corners, each of us rushing

To get un- and re-dressed faster

Than the competition.

 

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Butler

I honestly have no idea where this dream came from.

 

His butler takes care of things

Silently, without protest

Or word. It makes him

Angry, the way the man

Glides about so stoically, like

A stone, instead of a person.

So when he can, he

Rails at him, berates him, drops

Things on purpose for him

To clean, breaks things just so

He can get a reaction,

And never does.

During my visit I spill

A glass’s worth of brandy

Onto the white-carpeted floor

Of the den, thinking the cap

On the enormous bottle

Was closed. He finds the puddle,

But to my surprise, instead

Of hailing his servant, finding

A way to blame him, he

Takes a paper towel and begins

To wipe it away himself.

 

Food Chain

It’s always fun when dreams involve animal death.

 

The hawk is beautiful, long

Feathers stretched into streaks of

Brown and gold, its talons thick

And sharp, gripping the branches

Yards above my head. I have always

Loved hawks, but today I watch

It hunt. First a small wild kitten

Whose head it takes directly

Into its beak, yet the little thing

Is still unscathed after – so I shake

The tree, let it drop away and distract

The bird, for now. Next, a type of rodent

That, when dropped to the earth, survives,

But curls up and will not move

For full minutes, letting predators

Have an easy time of eating. The hawk

Drops two, and I pick up one,

Hold it until it can move again, and

Scamper away. The other, further away,

I leave – I can’t take away

All of a predator’s food.

California Steals Friends

It’s happened to me a few times, though admittedly only in dreams in this instance.

 

One of my closest friends

In New York tells me

They’re moving, soon, heading

To the West Coast, where they

Will do something that involves

Not returning. We sit on a bench

In the strange little community

Where we live, making the most

Of our last hours together as I

Try to think who will be

My writing buddy now.

Fall Offerings

I suppose if I were a goddess I’d be pretty happy with this.

 

I walk past the faces

Of several gods, held high

On stone plinths in niches

Surrounding the walls

Of this bright shrine –

But stop before

Only one. A goddess,

Taunted before by the gods

I know best.

As consolation and

Commiseration, I offer her

A bowl of soup, still steaming,

Leave it at her feet and think

How lucky it is I live

Where I can find a Greek temple

Inside a local Catholic church.

Cafeteria

Sometimes I just dream of food, though not always good food.

 

We explore together what must be

One of the largest cafeterias I’ve ever seen,

And one of the least well-stocked.

Bowls within glass-covered counters are

Empty, or filled with things no one

Would want to eat – pink salads, unnameable

Meats. One boy reaches deep into a counter

To see what a bowl in the back even is,

Dragging it closer as a girl on the other side

Laughs at his arm’s long stretch. I heard

Someone in our group say

They wanted vanilla custard, so I break away

To see if I can find it. I pass

Station after station, picked at sparingly

By other diners, one friend holding

What she says is meant to be a Reuben sandwich,

But wrapped in a hard taquito shell.

She tells me there is only one station that is

Actually any good, but the line for that snakes

Along the back of the room, too long

To bother standing in. I move on,

So many more custard-like bowls to check,

And even if it’s terrible, I at least

Want to say I found it.

 

Cult

Sometimes I have dreams I’m very glad to have woken up from.

 

I’ve been sent here to study

A phenomenon that’s been observed

On this particular patch of land

On this particular planet –

A cult,

Sprung up due to lack

Of resources, and the thought

That they are the last, or near-

Last, of their species.

It’s run

By a man, of course, who doles

Out punishments and jobs

As he sees fit to assign them.

The women, especially, keep

Telling me the punishments

“Don’t hurt,” as if that

Could excuse their existence.

They are all deliriously happy

In their dusty lives,

And I am equally happy

To be leaving in a day.