Life is a Dream

I was planted in a field of masochistic mannequins

each made mute by the mask that overwhelms

our tightly bound faces.

Eyes shift left to right as we regard each other

from heads bound forward,

tight smiles painted upon faces that

nod approvingly up and down

in small, stilted movements.

It’s cordial.  It’s proper.  It’s polite.

We look alike, especially from

our sideways glances.

We should.  We are related.

There are walls that separate the kindred

into sections like pens

in a feed lot of misunderstanding,



Wearing platitudes on tags

around our necks

of professed gratuity.

We were planted there,

each with a number,

a lineage,

a placeholder of an ideal.

Trusted to carry on the


of silence.

We all stand there

as if waiting for something.

What is it we are waiting for?

Time ticks by, annoying as

it disturbs our cherished

awkward silence.

Impatient taps from restless

feet echo in the dimly lit room.

I squirm, uncomfortable.

It occurs to me that no one

ever told me why?

Or who this protocol

was set by.

It occurred to me that the iron grip

across the back of my neck

hurt, and that by turning and using

the muscles and the bones,

encased in the plastic that bound me,

might set me free of this

tyrannical propriety.

A loud pop and crack

sounded as I broke

the case that trapped me,

and it occurred to me that I could

make weird faces and didn’t have

to mimic the smiles that

surrounded me, forced as they were.

I detected hushed murmurs from

the field.

Cracks formed on the edges of eyebrows

raised in speculation.

Shadows were cast,

and tiny glows, like a light left on

in a closet began to filter towards me.

Stiff from the rigidity, I crept slowly around, playing

hide and seek with myself

between the legs and bodies of other mannequins,

some so tall I couldn’t see their faces.

A few I poked,

running away and peeking at to see if

they noticed.

One I tipped over



One tripped me

(on purpose?)

Tiredly, I felt

a yearning in the muscles

in my face.

A twitching spread

and sounds came out

that shook me,

and frightened me,

and then silenced me again.

With this new found voice,

I stated quietly,

“Not me.

I did not agree to

live in a cell,


Tortured mannequins.

Containment suits

of wired fragments

of feelings

wound in balls,

like balls of yarn,

so stuffed away

that the colors of

the beautiful threads

are hidden,

tangled and despised.

So soon you

embrace the coffin?

So soon the stiffness, the stillness,

the coldness?

Can you not hear the child within

you, the one who came here

with purpose and intention?

With love?

Weren’t you the ones

who taught me that

differences were special?

If we can cultivate our palate

for strange drinks and

plates of foods that frighten

the best of us,

why can we not cultivate a taste

for each other?”

These things I muttered, shuffling among them.

I came to a door that led into another room.

I entered there, shaking the stiffness from

my limbs.

There were shadows and shapes of people

sitting at a large table

playing cards.

I squinted at them,

one by one,

and came to recognize

their faded features as

people I’d seen in

photographs; gray and old,

torn and yellowed.

A man gestured for me to join them

and I sat in a wooden chair,

too large for me,

but comfortable.

It creaked when I sat,

and I smiled at the faces

of my dead ancestors.

They smiled and nodded,

each in turn.

“Why are they like that?” I asked

the room at large.

They looked toward the door I’d

come through with one motion.

“They don’t have much time,”

they said, voices a chorus

of history.

“We were the same way,” a short and scrappy

woman said.  She smiled and winked at me, taking a bite of

crabapple pie.

“What changed you?” I asked.

“We’ve got all the time in the world,” she said.

I was puzzled, and spotted another door.

I rose and walked towards it.

Entering, I stopped inside,

seeing faces I recognized

as the banished.

Some were dead, and some alive.

They eyed me wearily.

Some I knew.  Some I didn’t.

“What is it all for?” I asked.

“We play cards with the others,”

one of them said.


“I see,” I said.

I didn’t.


2 comments on “Life is a Dream

  1. ozymandiaz says:

    “the plastic that bound me” struck me in particular
    wonderful close
    there is much to absorb here


  2. ejalvey says:

    Thanks, ozymandiaz.

    (great name)

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