from No Audience
I was elsewhere. The dream lacks background, no birds but speckled rain. (She
points to a fruit.) The house as remembered was vacant and slightly green. Maybe
the sun, maybe traffic.
(After the suicide) a noisy memory of her I neither had nor lost.
Then in rapid succession: a church on the river, an actor's forced smile.
"That can happen to anyone."
The emotions are lacking. A Halloween mask, an apple among bees. Everything is
beyond the face. Swimming pool as a stage prop. (I expected to see other people.)
Snow inside the mind outside the things I don't remember. The obvious problem.
Or, the sound of hail and what it broke. A highway like the corpse. A panic of
trees. One hundred words for "sorrow."
I have the idea of tiny birds. We were lovers but have since become estranged.
(The sad man turns a knife inside his pocket.) What do you know about toast
about death about kitchen windows? The truth is seldom revealed.
The difference between a shortage of breath and being unbearably terrified. Or,
the truth about sadness.
On October 10, she wrote in her journal: Winter is in them.
Later, the police officer ran across an empty beach, wanting to tell someone what
Or, where we are now. Meaning their faces are covered in cloth. Meaning all fears
of thunder are not alike. Meaning we've killed each other in previous dreams.
(She speaks as if it's still early in the morning.)
Perhaps someday. An unusual number of deaths. Stars inside the radio, the
crescent jolt of snow. The girl needs a father. She hated when the mannequins
And then something with a voice, something on paper. The language lacks its
flower. I admit the palm trees are also imaginary. Or, I admit I sleep in a
curtainless room. A problem posed by the clock.
Meanwhile, an ashtray or a bowl?
The best fairytales are full of murder, she said. There is a big difference, she said.
That's what I remember. Darkness of a missing animal. Her voice could only
pretend to become.
Or, something similar. I read the obituary. A sensation of something meaningless
seized me. Or, I was still in the room. Today especially. No sign of any
(God crosses a mustard field, gun in hand. The actor performs for no audience.)
I eat these birds.
A house like a hole, she wrote. Why don't you just tell me the words and they'll
come out of my mouth, she wrote.
Naked man, naked woman. That's one way of putting it.
Or, an explanation of blue. A hole in the wall, the stranger looking through.
Nothing in particular. Something moves beneath the surface. Snow as in the blank
of a page. Hands gesturing to illustrate a sinking ship. Dead or pretending? It was
always like that.
Answers come. I'm in a simple yellow fog. This is not the story I wanted to tell
and/or I begin my adult life. Where you left me. Then, the next morning.
The child symbolizes.
A voice off screen says the product will sell itself. Says, have a happy new year.
What's the name again?
I wear someone else's clothes.
A chair shifts. An index of unspecified of numbers. Or, I should be reading or
sleeping or dead. I mean, everything is noise now. I mean, it's like noise. Rotation
of the earth. I don't even believe that.
Subsequently, the word "clarity."
These policemen are real?
A deer with a zipper. I wear black in another room. I touch every object before
leaving. Having been someone else. Having been born. Remember me? I guess I
want to tell her everything. I'm painting a planet. No sky.
C Dylan Bassett is the author of six chapbooks. His recent poems are published/forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, Columbia Poetry Review, H_NGM_N, Ninth Letter, Pleiades, Salt Hill, West Branch and elsewhere. He is a teaching fellow at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and co-edits likewise folio / likewise books.