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Last Dream OF The Phantom Limb || David Hawkins

Someone’s hitched up a little gray goat
In the hard brown scratch of a yard—& that’s
The feeling you get. Nothing remarkable
Has occurred to you in weeks. Remember
The urgent sense dreams gave you once? They’ve since
Moved off, pitching their tents in the remote
Ozarks of thought; & cities in the distance
Flickering like the beads of a glitzy charm
Someone’s chucked on the way out, or the more
Distant locations where we go after,
Into a vast & starless night, now take up
In the space of all this leaving. At least, there
Can be no secrets between us. The acoustics
Are such that from one end of the executive chamber
You can hear clear across the other side a mouse
Consulting flirtatiously with a radish. We’ve been
Here before—but it’s different this time, the back-
Ground distortion reduced to a persistent hum,
A few distractions, arousals, but elsewise…ordinary
Or filled with such oddsorts & trifles suddenly nothing
Seems so trivial anymore. And you’re getting older,
More diffuse, too, but surely it’s for the best,
Pumping in all sorts of lightness, calibrated
To countervail the overfed & stultifying ego.
Something else belongs here, too—you feel it—
But its peculiarities are kept from you, signaled in
Random bursts shot through a screen of blandness.
Even the light here has something taken off it,
Falling into us & over the pale creepers of sweet
Potato & the deeper green plumbago, which is why
You can’t say what it is except that it is what
Was promised you long ago. Casually, but
With the fullness of coming pleasure, & after that, well…
Little’s changed: Fire escapes are wreathed in smoke,
& cresting low, dew-licked hills one can hear the rubbery
Orchestrations of the age, venting through a stem.
Unless I’ve completely missed my mark that makes this
Some soapy version of the afterlife. The tortured ones,
About whom everyone is talking, are anchored down
To keep them from drifting; all propositions of a
Sexual nature must now be issued from the chasmic rift
Between sleep & the dark heart of the sea, & truly big ideas
Are wired for sound. But please, don’t get too comfortable.
Whatever it’s about plainly doesn’t concern you.
Your deliverance was a stroke of luck, though it’s unclear who’s
The better for it; & the wheels on which the world turns are
Lubed in the golden emollient of dreams, which is just one
Less elegant morceaux we don’t have time for now.
You’d like to scotch the whole shebang, but that’s a lot
Harder than you might think. At one time restricted
To the outlaw flowering of your favorite tidewater bunker,
BURT’S CRAB SHACK & BAR on its shingle,
The feeling’s now grown out to overrun whole new tracts, &
Everything feels handled unto disuse. It’s the transplanted
Style that’s to blame, you think, snuggeries raised on stilts
In provocation of a Sno Globe climate, & at last
Call the verandahs are pulled shut against
The lullaby beachfront culture: A new & less
Satisfying veneer thrown over the natural surface
Like cheap, sticky plastic to preserve a plush original.
After all, it’s not as if we’ve never pondered our own
Extirpation, but not one of us can say when exactly
The dioramic effects finally supplanted the damp plumage
Of his own adequate life. Now a green, mid-week paste
Trims the cul-de-sac’s grassy apron, & the lake’s
Late glimmery spackle slowly emerges in the alum-light—
& there are other elements we know of, too, adherent
Though invisible to us behind their corrugated veil:
Skies filled with cream-colored cloud, a few barren
Trees—the estranged symbols like those in a painting
By Bruegel, circa 1562 or 63—& the diapasons
Of car engines, raving & revving & spurting loudly
Their enzymatic emissions. In short, it’s the very place
Where we might walk to clear our heads in the cool,
Plasmic air—& if a few exhort us to approach each day
As if our last, really,…who the fuck could go on like that?
Fittingly, the days are mild. So too the conversation.
In fact, whole neighborhoods seem touched by a regular
Dispassion in a come-day-go-day manner so you seem
Not so much a part of them as some disparate element gliding
Wraith-like over the glistering slabs. Families pour out
Onto their lawns to watch you pass never touching
The ground, whilst they remain firmly rooted, a
Part of it, &c.; & the simple house-front gardens evoke
Such industry, the planting & tending, the watering
Can left out beneath the porch, that even the bulbs’
Vegetal warmth (which is another type of work)
& the fertilization that grows out of the miniscule
Forebrains of bees seem caught up in it. Ah, to kiss
The nimble, light-exuding fingertips of the clever soubrette
Who componed these eyes,
the goat murmurs drowsily,
Which is exactly what you were thinking…. Just remember,
You’re no different—only you have these few extra parts:
A third tongue to lick the walls of the venerable heart
& this surplus elbow—or rather, the interior
Of an elbow, which flexes on the inside of the dream.
DAVID HAWKINS is the author of the non-fiction chapbook, Lorraine Nelson: A Biography in Post-it® Notes, winner of the Cupboard’s Literary Pamphlet competition, selected by Michael Martone (2011). His poetry has appeared in a number of journals and periodicals, including At Length Magazine, Barrow Street, Bat City Review, DIAGRAM, The Pedestal, and The Seattle Review—and his poetry collection, Dark Adaptations has been awarded a Utah Arts Council prize and was a finalist in the 2012 Poetry Foundation’s Emily Dickinson Prize. He is an Assistant Professor/Lecturer at the University of Utah where he was the Editor-in-Chief of Quarterly West from ‘01-’05, and he lives in Salt Lake City with his wife and two boys.