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Time with a Nighthead

Dreamed c.1960 by Barbara Gordon Paine

Once upon a middle of the night sort of day,
I heard a raking of the screen.
Then the door opened,
and a box not for, but against, slid in.
One glance at the crafted carton and I knew
this was sent an uncalled-for way. I tried to throw it out,
but my skin seemed grafted to the cornered plot.
Twisting, turning, I finally pulled free. So warned,
I still hoped to assure myself that the box contained
a trick thing. . .
like the toy I received as a child: a jumping jack
that I had learned to love for the momentary hate
I could express in a yell.
Wild I was, and secure . . .
for I could break the gift any old time.
What of this box?
Adult me a childish trick, please!

Suddenly the lid tripped up.
Out sprang a head that was mostly mouth...
mumbling, bumbling everything in nothing words.
A cloying lot, I understood. I struck with a sledge of Thought.
The tissued thing whined back into its cavity.
Determined to see how dead... I bent over the edge...
All became a whirlwind, suctioning, dragging me down, down

...The lid slammed sound.


This is from Eidolon, 1961, by Barbara Gordon Paine. Paine knew, and was influenced by, such poets as Karl Shapiro and Kenneth Patchen (her shape-poem protesting the letter Q is comically Patchenesque). Many other Eidolon poems are dreamlike and powerful--like "The Devil and the Poet", "Going Back To" and As a Hillborough Child I Never Could Find, but this is the only explicit dream.

--Chris Wayan

LISTS AND LINKS: nightmares - home - gifts - heads & faces - oops! - You Are Lunch - 50 years later, Ellen Frank makes the same slip in a Crocodile Dream - dream poetry

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