Sleep Cat

Excerpts from The Book of Dream © 2006

Book of Dreams

Blue Ridge Mountains

Claire Rooney


You named me this thing. Here I am,
the glue from your label so freely applied,
rolled off of your tongue, dripped onto mine.

I drank it down and painted your words
across my brow, smeared the letters all over my chest.
You named me this thing. Here I am.

You defined my life with a wink and smile
holding it out as an offering, the casual words
rolled off your tongue, dripped onto mine.

I ate it up and spewed it back out
in ugly chunks of a mangled dream.
You named me this thing! Here I am!

You slipped in the knife with a twist and grin
to show me how I misconstrued. Your real intent
rolled off of your tongue, dripped onto mine

with an acid splash that blistered my lips and
burned away my pretensions. One by one
the thoughts rolled off of your tongue...
You named me this thing. Here I am.


 A is forÖ

Alien is the word I assign when
blue skies grey, the barometer falls and
cumuli gather cantankerous heads
dimming the world down to an
ethereal light, eerie and strange.
Fog bound and sun-forgotten,
granite are the gables of
heaven parading clouds hewn from hard
ivory, like it must have been on the day
Jesus wept.  ďJust
kill me now,Ē I kid with the rain. Sheís a
languid lover of burning cold passion, a
masochist with a mutinous
nature, unnaturally kind, nearly cruel.
ďOh, God,Ē I huff into her obdurate ear.
Please stop. Please donít,Ē as we lay in the
quiet storm of my quandary, though I
respond to her touch riding inside the soft
susurrus of skin sliding on leather, the light
tip of her tongue brushing against my
uncertainty, goose bumps and shudders. Underneath my
vestal nature, this fragile vessel of bone and vein, Iím
wanting and waiting but I am so
xenophobic. Her x-ray vision frightens me.  I

Yelp when she yanks down my
Zipper, when her grey eyes dissolve to azure.


Winter Solstice

I make a four under the sheets and
count the sheep lined up for miles,
the piles of minutes left to keep, too
many passed by posts and stiles.
sleepyhead in winter woods, before
the snow can fall too deep - close your eyes.
close my eyes and gracefully drift into sleep.

Inside these dreams, so dark and
deep, it seems I search for many miles
through guiles of twisted icy streams, to
stark and starless woods I keep.
pumpkin head, flee the wraith before
the snow can fall too deep - run away.
run away and fight my way up out of sleep.


Night Mist 

Slinking fog creeps past platforms heels
on the end of fishnet legs that are already
longer than I am tall.
She winks broadly and grins,
diamond inset flashing,
from her right canine.
Her adamís apple bobs up
and down, as if it is amused
by the tick twitching under
my eye.  ďLooking for something
tall dark and handsome?Ē
She asks in a rumbling basso-profundo.
ďNo maíam,Ē I reply,
tucking my head and scurrying past.


Three Blind Mice

Roses are red
Except when theyíre not
Violence is blue
And Maryís so hot
Sheís a crazy cat
A lamb disguised in
Black velvet fur with
Bright yellow eyes
Calling down blackbirds
While baking up pies
And I miss you so much
I could kill myself
Except then I would miss you more
Violets are green to me

Thereís a ring Ďround the roses
And my pockets are full
Of six pence but
I donít know what
That will buy me
A trip across town
A ride into the Styx
Where we all fall down
On the stone garden path
As Mary plays tag with our ashes
And Iím so angry with you
I could spit plug nickels
Except then I would be dead broke
Posies are violet to me

Merry MaryĎs so damn contrary
Her gardenís a mess
ĎCause the ring was a worm
That killed all the roses
But we didnít find out
Until well after spring
When nothing bloomed
But the muscle shells
And one silver bell
The rest went to hell
And Iím so ashamed of you
I could just die
Except then what would be the point?
Daisies are blue to me


Jehovah Lady  

Train rumbles through town
Wakes me from a lovely nap
Dream window shatters

Doorbellís silver chime
Itís Saturday afternoon
Gretchenís here again

Numbers on her arm
She talks of God and Dachau
Missing bottom teeth

Singing his praises
Illuminating the rules

Itís my lack of faith
I donít believe in either
God or in flowers 

Swollen legs stiff hips
She limps to my garden on
Hurt feet and hard years

She sows mustard seeds
We talk of God and dahlias
Words cast on dry soil 

Itís in the trying
She shines like a sun, I am
The star in her crown


This or That *

In my version of the story, it read: I never thought a girl like you could
send me wicked dreams.
But thatís only my side. Iím sure yours is different.

I bet you thought a girl like me might bend your wicker seams and it did look
like I made you nervous, though I couldnít say why. It must have been the

pigtails and the gingham dress or maybe it was the thigh-high leather boots
and dark sunglasses. Either way you kept looking at me like my head was

stuffed with straw. In the first version that I told you, the wicked witch was
still alive but then, over tea and English muffins, I confessed that he was dead.

I said: the story that frightened me the most was the tin manís because he
liked to carry an axe and chop off peopleís heads and it made me worry about

mine. You see, even though my eyes are painted on, I am not a whore. I can
tell that this is true because I never tried to sell myself, not even to you, not

for the wicked that the dream might be, but you had no way of knowing
and with the red paint flaking off my mouth, I had no way to tell.


*After Amy Beeder, Burn The Field, "Gossip", p. 53, Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2006


Lovely Technology

She comes to me
in sexy shades
of ones and zeros
and whispers

that all of life
can be reduced
to just two states.
It makes me shiver

shake and moan
because I know
that what she says
is true - and false.


400 Miles

Even at forty, I still tell myself that maybe some wishes really are fishes and dreams do come true if you work really hard. I tell myself this but I know that Iím lying. Itís a big solid cherry red lie. I know itís wrong, but still, itís become a good friend, like a big dopey dog that follows me from year to year, licking my face and leaning its weight against my legs when my burden becomes too much to abide. Itís my own poor deceit, but mine is not funny, clever or wise and it isnít enough anymore.

I remember finding you sitting by the side of the road, scratched up and crying, hair disarrayed, so I took you home but you couldnít stay. You said, Ďthanks for the band-aidí and then you left and I was left to open the drawer by the right side of my bed where I keep my lies in neat little rows. I dragged out the blue one and it leaned its weight up against my leg and licked my hand. It wasnít enough, so I gave you a call but you werenít home. Then all of a sudden, neither was I.

I went to Barbados where they coat their lies in cocoa butter and tropical oils. ĎYou can slip them in easier that way,í she said handing me the suntan lotion and rubbing small circles all over my back. I forget her name but she had these big white bright teeth and sun dark kissed skin. She rolled in the sand, swam with sharks and brought me a shell from the ocean floor. I gave her a twenty to straddle herself across my legs and lick my chin but it wasnít enough so I gave you call. You still werenít home.

Dreams do come true if you format them to fit the TV. Itís not hard to do, Iíve done it before. I keep telling myself that wishes are fishes with big sharp teeth and cast-iron scales but I havenít heard a word that Iíve said since I bought the dog and he peed on the rug. He chewed up my cherry red lie and buried it in the garden under the dark rich soil where the dahlias grow. Hope blooms eternal but I sit and shiver. The phone rang five times today, but I canít bring myself to answer it.