“The Beast And The Dreamer” by Jack Grapes

There is a beast
in the bed with you.
You’d rather pretend
it’s the dream
or the overcoat
you forgot to hang up
or that person
you share space with
on the sheets.
When you roll into him
during the night
and his teeth fly up
to the ceiling,
you hold still,
listen for a sound
to explain it,
look for the book
you fell asleep reading,
then roll back over,
and the beast settles
down again beside you
like a black balloon.

I know about this beast.
He does not sleep
and he does not dream.
To himself, if asked,
he is more a beast,
knows his ugliness
to become more ugly.
Swamps dry up in his mouth.
The death of ships
under the ocean
slide in slime on his skin.
His arms are the broken
bones of asteroids,
his eyes
the open ass of Krakatoa.

And though he’s never died,
his death is all he truly remembers.
Condemned to the light within the dark of sleep,
he is not permitted his own,
but puts one arm
behind his head
and thinks through the night
with you,
avoiding the beast of thoughts.
He lies beside you,
envious of your slow breathing,
wishing your dreams
were his to dream,
wanting just one
of your nightmares
to wake from.

Jack Grapes
All Rights Reserved

© 1995