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Page 157

I have this nightmare in which whatever I am
aware of being (this body, these thoughts, this sense
of self) is front to what I really am, but cannot
perceive, as if I've put my head through
the hole in a state-fair photographer's
painted cardboard scene, perhaps my face
pushing through beneath a painted black cowboy hat,
my head comically three-dimensional
like a drunk's red nose, posed atop
a painted cowboy body on a painted bucking bronco,

and I've stood there (on a stool behind the cardboard)
for minutes that seem hours while the photographer
tweaks his camera, changes film and lighting, adjusts
lenses...so that my hidden body has gone numb,
and I have slipped into a cowboy dream, or
into the dream of being who I think I am.

What's scary is, I don't know what goes on
behind the scene, what fingers pick my pockets,
poke and fondle, point and mock, torment,
caress, inject, sneer, put silly signs on my numb,
invisible, legendary, half-forgotten derriere.

Enchanted by this hypnotic world,
I've lost track of what I am
in some other universe, am perhaps
a hollow hand puppet, some alien hand thrust up
my long-lost asshole to make me squirm, voice
alien words -- O when will the photographer
duck beneath his black cloth and with
loud pop, blinding flash, sizzle and black smoke,
wake me from this dream?

Note: In so awkward a position, one would almost prefer not to wake up.

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