I am Poet Laureate of Vermont. My 12th collection of poetry, No Doubt The Nameless, will appear later this year. I founded and for thirteen years edited New England Review.
The Nightmares You Knew
What would be worse, you wondered, a nightmare you actually pictured,
Or incubus, devoid of features,
Nameless, not even a creature?
No doubt the nameless. So you chose a few you could visualize.
If that’s what you want, the nightmares whispered, and brought a digit-sized
Resplendent coral snake to slide,
All wriggle and toxin, inside
The house, your mind. The snake was the first to corrupt your slumber.
Then they decided upon a different guise altogether:
Scorpion, her claws tick-ticking under
Your bed. You heard. Small wonder
You felt so lonely, you felt so oddly accident-prone.
Gila monster lay, it seemed stock-still, alone
in the dim and dust-balled corner of the room,
like a heap of piebald stones.
The only sign that he lived: the cold stones’ rhythmic pulsing.
She-ermine called you outdoors. You watched, you winced, recoiling–
In the deepest dead of winter, bone-chilling–
From red diacritics marking
The snow: pale page with umlaut and circumflex of plunder.
They made it into a shrike, or to use the argot, a butcher-
Bird, who deftly hung cadavers
Like minuscule, vivid flowers,
On any plant or shrub, whatever offered a thorn.
Then another something surfaced, which, with a languid turn
Of her erose tail, riled up the pond:
Swampland matriarch, fond
Of flesh, the alligator– all grin and fetor, ruthless.
Heavy-heeled, he trod the verges of northland forest:
Wolverine, possessive, dauntless.
He gnarred the wolf off the carcass,
Whose festering brain he consumed. On what was left, he pissed.
Be reminded: it was your will that made for all of this.
To envision each figure was to make it exist,
And you urged all to persist.
The nightmares are grateful to you for persisting too, no matter.
It’s kind of you, they believe, to help them all to prosper.
©2015 Sydney Lea