A Dream or Nightmare

Awake I took the morning
to mean that the world had
finally forgotten about me.
In the mirror I looked through
my eyes to find nothing wrong,
I mapped the curse of my face
on a palette shaped like a handprint.
There is no credibility to finding
a new season out the window, any season
and especially a wind that
throws the flowers into a panic.

I checked the phone to see if it was ringing.
I opened the door as a car
rushed over the pavement
towards a place where it would
inarguably stop. I stuck my finger
outside and it was like stirring
a bowl of warm water. How
anyone could ever tell
what temperature it was
is beyond me. And I had
a terrible feeling as I turned back –
it was like everything was watching me
without caring and my breath
sucked up into the trees like newspaper,
never wanted to be in my chest. But

I had a terrible feeling just then
that the door wanted to swing free
circle itself and breathe and see
as I pushed it gently closed.


to find the place where the child will hide
to know that the streaks of darkness
that once held to their colors as bricks
hold to silhouettes of leaves
to know that here is the comfort
of lost birds on their way to
or from new homes

the cause of wind becomes so suddenly clear
when this empty cup of dreams
against the world sings

To the Teacher at the Continuing Education
Annex Who Told the Class to Shut Up

A younger me would’ve told you
to fuck yourself
then left the door hanging
wide-mouthed with a middle finger
on its tongue. Young me
would’ve rolled outside to scream
like a meteor pounding
the sidewalk and might’ve
built a secret fortress
of hate under your chair as
I waited for the ghost of your
evil soul to evaporate
behind you like milk
into a hot night of coffee.

All things considered now.
Instead of feeling the vomit of rage
tack its curtains
in my stomach, there’s a question
of diminishing returns,
how the porchlight of my life
casts your shadow dimly
on my future somewhere,
a silhouette of knowledge
on the house of me. And of course

I am still trying not to be young.
I keep thinking this picture of myself
as a tiny man, standing on a stack of books
that tell the stories of my years
reaching up for the doorknob.
And there is you, too
dear teacher, whose advice for me
was today to shut up, advice
which I have to now follow
knowing that it’s not really you who
wants to pull rank – it’s me
years from now, tired, possessed
with my own weight
of ten thousand pitchforks behind
from all the demons I’ve been dragging
to this place, this city of knowledge
where no one has the time to explain.

Colin Pope’s work has appeared or is forthcoming
in Oak Bend Review, Night Train, Red Rock Review,
Words on Paper Online, and Zaum. In 2008, he won
the Rose Fellowship from Texas State University
and the Santa Barbara Poetry Conference Scholarship.
He is an editor at Front Porch Literary Journal
and currently resides in Texas.

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