when they turn ugly

are the more familiar landscape

and taste real in their message

though I drive them out

like wolves from the lambs gate must

be refused

prophecy or fear demands

we turn the taste of metal in our mouths

wondering which alchemy

holds the pick

to let us out of this clink

wrists accustomed to confine

sometimes I climb inside the nightmare

looking for signs and meaning

did one mind really create this world?

why am I so talented at weaving

the wrong perspective and

so weak in my try out for cheer?

was it the day I was left alone

to forage and forget how to be

one of you

or in wandering too far from the path

did I eat poison and lapse into a sleep

from which I am still part?

is this real or

do the hands of my foes

restraining wakefulness

feel the heavier and familiar both?

for we learn to grind our own grain

the sounds the pain

separate the chaff from the seed

who is and who is not

trust the mask

trust the god

trust the cat who sphinx like will

scratch and spit

they say women have no sisterhood

and circumcision can rent our heat

they veil us and shave us bald

we stand in our sagging against the merit

and scald

I recall once hearing a woman berated

for not sucking deep enough

without needing to see

I felt her knees ache, her back bend

her neck like a wilted flower

given out of obligation not affection

it taught me

to suck long and hard

in hope I could

remove the stopper holding us down

bursting we’d climb

out of our bottle

genii’s in rags

what would the world do if

men became pregnant and jin

held the whip?

what would the world do

if women no longer tore at each other

with blackened nails?

what would the world do

if I learned the way home

and nightmares were left to fringe

the lonely woods beyond

where crows pecked the gloat

exulting in their horror

what would I do

if I woke up whole

and climbing out of a sun filled bed

went downstairs to breakfast

and there you were

your arms out, your knives dull

sitting at the table set for all of us

37 thoughts on “Pesadilla

  1. It’s a cliché of course, but the baby crying on the floor makes you think the woman in the bed (its mother?) must be a monster. Unless it’s the baby…

  2. Actually that’s very interesting isn’t it? Shows us the bias of our perception so much! I mean would we think that if it were a man? That’s what I like about paintings they do point out our bias in a way we usually do not see it. Very true. I did feel that also. I wonder what in it is the monstrous part – maybe the idea of indifference?

  3. All so hauntingly familiar, the dream you can never wake from. What would the world do? Then I ask myself, what would I do? Brilliant Candice, I adore the places that your words take my mind to, for reasons and reasons.
    ~ Mia xo

  4. It’s probably because the mother is supposed to be caring. If she ignores a crying child it’s a sign that she is unnatural. Probably possessed 🙂

  5. The painting is almost too overwhelming to look at, and your prose, this passage in particualr resonated with me: “why am I so talented at weaving/the wrong perspective and/so weak in my try out for cheer?”
    Well done

  6. If sucking could really get us out of the bottle … i’d have long been out

  7. Another thoughtful, powerful poem. The nightmare that becomes through–or reflects the horror of our world.
    I agree with you and Jane that the painting is creepy. (And the baby on the floor definitely could be a demon baby.) But I kind of thought the woman woke to the nightmare of having all these crying babies. Maybe she nursed all the ones on the bed, and then the one of the floor suddenly appeared.

  8. There you are! I missed you! I hope you are well talented lady. Thank you for reading this. The painting was enormously disquieting I thought it perfect for a nightmare poem! That’s true, she could well be waking in her nightmare to those things, that’s a good interpretation I found it very surreal but then that’s why I thought it fit the idea of a nightmare so well. xo

  9. It’s nice to be missed. 🙂 The painting is disquieting! I’ve been working on the book. I had to research and write a chapter for someone who vanished, plus some other bits–maybe about 16,000 words or so, not counting my fun poetry writing. 🙂 I’m still waiting for some entries to come in.

  10. I so wish i could help, really support you on that, in awe of the achievement hope it is purchased by every health and medical and social work and psychology and gender studies class, so worthy in a day when little is. Respect to you hard working and talented lady.

  11. Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~ Edgar Allan Poe

    Our nightmares become our manufacture, and the manufacture becomes our nightmare.

    Powerful! and outstanding words of imagery.

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