There are so many rooms in the house of sleep,
and for too long,
I’ve been pacing the hallway
listening to things clatter from behind locked doors,
and I’ve been too tired to stop
and search my cluttered pockets
for the keys.
It’s easy to talk myself into
believing this isn’t necessary,
that I have everything I need
in this narrow corridor—
but last night sleep possessed me
on the couch, still in my coat.
There was no arguing with it.
It held me in a headlock
and dragged me down into the trenches
where dreams touch the underworld
and living creatures enter them.
Alligators were waiting to meet me
at the highway exit. I wrestled them
but they were too intense, so I turned
and ran into the black Florida swamp.
I kept running and didn’t stop
until dawn, when it became a bayou
thick with uluating things.
I slept so aggressively
that I broke some kind of barrier
into the land of the dead.
There were sonic booms
as I was pulled into a vortex
by an army of dancing spirits.
Somewhere on another planet,
the far-off ding of a microwave:
a liminal note of burritos,
and a teen child I vaguely remembered
was mine. Then back onto the tourbus
through lands of impossible ironwork,
juju marketplaces bearing overpriced objects
of plastic-wrapped significance—
doll heads, ram’s horns, bones
and broken cat’s eye marbles
that I considered carefully
and walked away from,
knowing I had better connections
to matters of the spirit—
and the orange of southern skies.
The rain began to fall in my dreams
and wet my skin. The morning sky
in my room edged onto my face, bright,
after a week of clouds. My bones are burning
less today, and when I grope inside the pockets
of my coat, there’s the familiar clink of metal.
They were in my hand all along—
I will be unlocking all the doors today.
© Psyche Marks 2017