Simple Tendencies

Downtown, Loganville 2000

Quelqu'un me réveille de mon sommeil 

 

I wake, I eat, I sleep. I dream of sandpaper on a tree limb, and the tacky feeling of sap on my fingers. 

Licking at it, I imagine falling in place in an ever lengthening hole. I pretend it's flight. 

My bedroom is clean. In my dreams 

The floor is unstained by Coke and sweat, 

And the walls still carry their colors proudly. 

Safe. Clean. 

The two bookshelves I've had since infancy lean against those walls.

They never left, and I greet them as old friends. 

There is no hum from an inexpensive television,

No modem whirring to life.

No friends. 

Except the books littering the shelves.

And a little boy with a book has all the friends he needs. Right, mama?

 

...Right, Collin. 

 

I dream of swim team, and burning eyes from chlorine.

The smell of summer deodorizes everything, pine needles and sunblock. 

Little boys don't dream of greatness in the water.

 The world shrinks and all you see

 is the pair of legs dancing in and out of the pool ahead of you.

The long stretches of time, drowning yourself

by breathing in water during the backstroke. 

The feel of cement crushing your fingers as you fly into a turn.

The shame the little boy felt when he sees he's in last place. Again.

 

I dream of sudden shock, watching my father impale his thigh on a car door while he throws himself from his wheelchair. There is no blood in my slumber. He cries out in agony as firefighters clamp the door from the car frame. They carry him out of my sight. 

 

Mama, Daddy is okay, right?

... Right, Collin. 

 

My dreams taste like the salt from the tears that course down my face as my brother goads me into fighting my first friend.

Caleb's older brothers shove him toward me,

 and neither of us know what to do.

He cries, too. 

 

I smell mesquite smoke and the rubber from the trampoline we hide under.

He asks me if I've kissed a girl.

 I say of course, I kiss mama. He says no, like a real girl. 

I say no. Your sister is a real girl. Kiss her. 

I say no. He asks if I want to kiss him.

I say no. He does it anyway. 

 

 

Mama, boys can kiss, right?

No, Collin!

 

It's October, and I dream of the crunch of leaves under my feet.

Mama and I make our way through the crowd near the big church.

I lick mascara and powder from my lips

 as the costume melts in the Georgia heat.

 My hand sweats in my mother's,

but I hold tightly to the ice cold band

that wraps around her finger.

 My hand still blazes with the lipstick

 she kissed it with that morning

as a banishment of fear and loneliness.

Sister is at home.

Brother is inside the church.

Daddy walks. All is well. 

 

I dream of writing. Words topple single file off long bylines that I have to finish before the paper is due. My stomach is flat, in my dreams. My ribs show. My eyes burst with vibrancy and color, but they bug out just the same. I am alive,

here the scratch of uncut nails on plastic keys etching a staccato beat into the hardware is all the music I need. 

 

Desperate to be loved. Desperate to know recognition. 

 

I am a Pullitzer, a laureate, a name on every tongue in Georgia. They hold focus classes on me, and none of them see the hollow shell of a boy cowering under his desk, that the mean man he grows into has come again to milk his tears as ink for his art. 

 

I wonder if Caleb remembers our kiss under the trampoline. Time means nothing, and in my sleep I see us both as five, playing with concepts too big for children and too alien for adults. 

 

I dream to hide myself from the consequences of waking, and to purge myself from the thoughts that corrupted the little boy, hand in hand with his mother, as they walk through downtown Loganville.

Comments2

  • L. B. Mek

    'I dream of writing.'
    no, dear Poet
    you're already: writing your dreams into reality..
    your path will either be short and easy or long and arduous, but what's not in question: is your poetic talent..
    enjoy the journey,
    strive for the Art, over the recognition,
    stay Bold and True, never
    substitute the integrity of your words for their hollow placations and praises..
    best of luck to your ambitions!
    it was a privilege to read your genius, sincerely

    • Simple Tendencies

      Wow, thank you Mek, that's huge coming from someone who writes like you do. I'm really in my head about the things I write about, so positive comments like this make my heart happier than I can say.

    • rebmasters

      Tes rêves sont de la poésie, mon ami

      Absolutely beautiful - I want to read more please x

      • Simple Tendencies

        Thank you! It's hard sharing ideas I've trapped in my brain for ages. I'm glad people think that they're worth reading. Your words mean everything.



      To be able to comment and rate this poem, you must be registered. Register here or if you are already registered, login here.