A Real Nightmare

Not long ago I wrote about a recurring dream of mine, a dream in which my quest for a perfect college GPA is thwarted by a “B” achieved on my final exam in my final class. I’m proud to say I’ve moved on from this nightmare. Unfortunately, another nocturnal narrative has me worried these days.

It goes like this: I have made it safely to graduation day and am prepared to accept my degree. The ceremony has begun, but I’m stuck in the parking lot, unable to reach the stage. I never hear my name called and wonder why I’m so close to graduating but instead find myself lost in diploma limbo.

Panic fills me. At first I think it’s due to my not getting out, to being stuck in the role of eternal student. But then I engage in a sort of meta-dream in which I tell myself I secured the 4.0 and already graduated.

Then the real panic comes, bursting through me. I’m terrified because I know this is true, that I graduated in 2002 and that, at age 31, I’m far from being a student.

Given all my troubles since earning my degree, it makes sense that, in an effort to protect myself from the truth, to deny certain humbling realities, my unconscious mind would create a world in which I never left school.

Part of me, in fact, has never left childhood. At 31 I’m still 21, and when I was 21 I was still 11, and when I was 11 I was still barely one. It’s why, when the narrator in the movie Fight Club declares: “I’m a 30-year-old boy,” I relate so strongly.

But I’m not a fictional character and my life is not a metaphor. If I remain attached to a series of pre-adult selves, longing to hide in a perpetual past in order to avoid grown-up pains, I’m afraid my future will disappear before me.

Now there’s a real nightmare.


A Grand Old Party


I see myself in you
dying for release

histories to debunk
myths we tell ourselves
about ourselves

we’re out of our minds
exchanging information
before we crash

the TV interrupts me
my crazy train of thought
the cell phone interrupts me
texts too heavy to decode

words are objects of desire
beyond expression
they do not speak for us

we take our time
allergic to rash decisions

the devil in heaven
screwing virgins over
god a megalomaniac
with mommy issues

up all night
sleep and sex deprived
we are missing persons
altered egos

multiple identity thieves
caught up in the moment
nostalgic for tomorrow

Another Ironic Poem


I shadowbox the truth
begging for a fight
high on inferiority
we take our places
all made up for the show
every word matters
flung from my soul
abstract boomerangs
never returned
my anger is implied
find it deep in thought
content to sabotage
my best laid plans
need a pill to get it up
can’t wine you
can’t dine you
dates keep passing by
alone on Sunday morn
you praying to gods
I’ll make it through
thick and thin
my insides and my act together
if there is a conductor
he’s drunk
and out of tune
everyone playing
a shattered instrument
nobody hears

Mixing Metaphors

Over the last two weeks, I have begun writing poetry inspired by bands like Pixies, Pavement and Guided By Voices. This new poetry is an exercise in free association in which I let ideas find me, begging to be consumed. Less editing is involved; a “first thought, best thought” approach emerges. Wordplay is of utmost importance, even if “meaning” is left open and abstract. My first attempt follows below.



there’s death in diagnosis
a panic for the cure

we name our faults
after the fact
blame our sorrows on the world
repressing all the rage

the center untenable
we’re forced to have fun
bored from playing fools

there’s nothing to see
but blinded eyes
truth a fiction
bound to keep us down

revolving doors
we lose ourselves
in passing moments

another sacred season
dead on arrival
bereft of crossed out loved ones

ever get the feeling
you’re mixing metaphors
for faint reaction
from an audience of one?

performing tricks
repeat speech violations
to be booked
in departments of correction?