The Office:

Delali Ayivor

It’s 4:15 am
and I have woken (again)
to read a chapter
of Lolita and the Metamorphosis, two books
that were never meant
to be read together
and leave me dreaming
of 7 foot cockroaches waltzing
with nymphettes in white, poofy gowns.

I know better by now
than to leave magazines on the floor,
but I like to leave my readings
to mate.
The toilet is leaking again—
A New Yorker, is commingling
with a Rolling Stone.
An editorial
on the loss of Brooklyn’s street cred
and a picture of Bob Dylan
have morphed into
some sick half-breed,
a pulpy mass of newsprint
that I can never finish reading now.

This is my life’s work—
sitting under the florescent lights
of this celery-green walled cubicle
that smells, always,
of stagnant water and ink.
Losing hours
trying to cure my bad dreams,
give me the sleep
that two dream catchers,
and a small village
of matchstick and wool
Guatemalan worry dolls
in my pillowcase cannot.

The dreams were worst
after reading Bukowski and Faulkner.
Earth-toned after reading Diaz,
soft-focus and dizzying after Plath and Miranda July.
Best, after Vonnegut
and a $5 paperback
entitled Savage Thunder

that I got at a Goodwill
in Washington State—already water-stained,
so I didn’t feel bad about leaving it,
face-down on the brown-flecked bathroom floor.
The sopping bathmat
dyed a third of its pages blue.

I have yet to get what I want most,
to dream in poetry.
To wake to find myself
stenciled in ghazals,
to my favorite words
lunar, oblong, viscid
inscribed into my eyelids
like a mantra
so they become
the things I uncover in sleep.

An intriguing concept—stories/media commingling. Use of imagery is evocative. The last about dreaming in poetry is simply lovely.
—Cynthia Leitich Smith, 2011 Hunger Mountain Prize for Young Writers Judge

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