“Nightmared” by Annie Stenzel

They’re marred by all the dire, those hours when sweet sleep
was intended but impossible. Stacked in recollection now, one
upon the shoulders of another, each scene resists interpretation.

Say I told these stories to a shrink, unfurled each episode
like a story-board, spoke them without undue inflection.
What do you make of these, O oracle?

Well, the cimbal is an obvious symbol, just as the totem
pole was clearly an omen; the flying and the falling are almost
too easy—same as the test in trigonometry, or the sudden nudity.

I rarely dream of dragons, and my important dead
make cameo appearances, if any, even though they occupy
day-mind like valiant soldiers, never asking to be relieved.

Blind brain in each night’s pillowed head, why do you scour
the landscape for what is fearsome? Am I not equipped with adequate
mystery, walking the dark world by day with my eyes open?

Annie Stenzel was born in Illinois, but has lived on both coasts of the U.S. and on other continents at various times in her life. Her book-length collection is The First Home Air After Absence (Big Table Publishing 2017).  Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in print and online journals in the U.S. and the U.K., from Allegro to Willawaw Journal with stops at Ambit, Chestnut Review, Gargoyle, {isacoustic*}, Kestrel, Poets Reading the News, The Lake, and Whale Road, among others. She lives within sight of the San Francisco Bay. For more, visit anniestenzel.com.

Image: “In the midst of it” by Victoria Johnston

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