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Dream Informed by the Rule of Improv

          Yes, and…

Your home becomes engulfed in mosquitoes

so you begin putting pins through them

and connecting them with a single string

making something of a night sky there

in your living room, one you have to

plot. There is the Scarecrow constellation,

and here the Iron Maidens. Eternity so near

you can’t pretend you don’t hear her forever

trumpets coming, and behind them the years

dumb and dour as mammoths, the Rubik’s cube

black on all sides. You don’t know how

you got here but you know to map

any sort of magic is to starve

a dragon or lock a fairy in a bird cage.

So you keep looking for yucks

in the saddest facts possible—a tree grows

its knuckles of fruit. Heaven is exactly three days older

than previous models predicted.

And when Napoleon waterskis past

with Cleopatra on his shoulders, you have to

say yes, and…and when your mother is calling

at three in the morning…and when suddenly

you are tip-toeing around a word like a thief

down a hall of mousetraps: yes, and

yes. Experience is what people name

their mistakes, and nobody told you

which aches would come again

asking her do you remember

who the president is, when man landed

on the moon, what color pills

did you take? Now you wait

for your mind to go, the mouths

to come. Peel back this map and you can see

their meandering tracks, this house

you lay awake in, wolves collecting

their voices in the nearby dark.


Jeff Whitney is the author of five chapbooks, two of which were co-written with Philip Schaefer. Recent poems can be found in 32 Poems, Pleiades, Prairie Schooner, Sycamore Review, and Verse Daily. He lives in Portland.