This was written for Read Write Poem Prompt #42: Catch Some Words. I actually had composed this early this morning, before I even knew about the prompt…..

I had come across the poem “Abortion Stories” when reading a book of Jim Morrison’s poetry…and then found out that the words later became The Doors’ song, “Peace Frog”. These are the words that caught me:

“Indians scattered on a dawn’s highway bleeding,
ghosts crowd the young child’s fragile eggshell mind.”

From there, I was inspired to write “Nightmare”. Enjoy.


(for J. Morrison)

You were five.

This was when they still called you “Jimmy”.

You saw them scattered on the highway,
standing outside broken and smashed trucks –
some weeping, some bleeding. You begged
your parents to help them. Do something.

They called the police and an ambulance.
But you kept pleading, perhaps for the souls
scattered and shattered before your eyes,
perhaps for yourself, or perhaps for both.
Do something.

Frustrated, worn out, and perhaps exasperated,
your father then told you that what you had
seen was just a dream. A nightmare, even.

So you took that nightmare and buried it in your
skin. Buried it in your soul. You took that nightmare
and spun it into tales. Showed us the faces of your
nightmare. Some of us understood. Some of us
did not. Either way, your life became a rich, elaborate
nightmare that exhausted your mind and body. And
you projected that nightmare into the skies and
into your words.

And one night, you collapsed under the weight of
that nightmare with only a bathtub filled
with a few inches of lukewarm water
to catch you when you fell.

When you fell, the earth fell with you.

And we still can feel her shaking.

Written 8/28/08
© 2008 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.

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About ravenswingpoetry

I am a 38 year old writer from Columbus, OH and the creator of Raven's Wing Poetry. I am a poet, seeker, fellow traveler, and autistic.
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14 Responses to Nightmare

  1. lirone says:

    I may be way off the mark, but this feels like a poem you really needed to write for some reason… something that has huge resonance for you on some level. It feels very powerful, anyway, particularly the “few inches of lukewarm water/to catch you when you fell”

  2. paisley says:

    oh oh oh that was excellent.. i so loved it…

  3. Geraldine says:

    Very powerful and evocative words.

    I was a huge fan of Jim Morrison and the Doors. Glad I stopped in. G

  4. anthonynorth says:

    Very heartfelt – almost a mission.

  5. Annamari says:

    very good. I second Lirone on the ‘few inches …’
    I like the Doors and Morisson’s poetry.

    and on a side note in a Byzantine orthodox service that is still quite traditional the altar doors stay closed until the most important moment of the service –the Communion- where the say “ the doors, now the doors open”. It always made me think at this almost universal image of the “the doors to the other side” and I was surprised to find it in Morrison’s poetry as well. )

  6. nightmares that become tales, a life that becomes a nightmare, sad story. i was a Doors fan too.

  7. twitches says:

    I like poetry that can tell a story in a compelling manner.

  8. christine says:

    You narrate a tragedy, and also some of why the world is drawn to his music, and his legend. Nice poem.

  9. susan says:

    I could feel the nightmare growing with each stanza. The 7 or so last lines really sucked me in. And the ending left me shaking. Enjoyed.

    By the way, I know very little about Morrison, but you rendered his story (or somebody’s) very intimate for me here.

  10. nathan1313 says:

    You really get a sense of the effect of this experience — its horror and power over his psyche.

  11. pieceofpie says:

    nicole, you definitely caught jimmy’s nightmare and life… he was an excellent poet… always thought his music haunting

  12. Thank you, everyone.

    This was probably one of the easiest and yet one of the most difficult pieces for me to write at the same time. Easy because the words flowed. Difficult because of the emotions involved. Namely the pain.

    Lirone, you are not that far off with your first comment.

    Here’s the deal: I referred to what his father did back in lines 12 – 14, i.e. telling him that what he had witnessed was just a dream. I don’t care what reasons there are for a parent doing this – I strongly believe that lying to a child like that will severly fuck up his/her perceptions and sense of reality (i.e. the idea “you really didn’t just see what you think you saw”). That has the potential to cause the child to question his/her own senses and judgment to the point of severe doubt on one hand, or on the other break the child’s trust if he/she knows in his/her heart if the parent is lying. Also, there’s the dismissal of feelings and concern…the underlying message that what the child feels is trivial, and not important enough to the point where it can be safely dismissed with a few offhand words or a lie.

    This is what resonated with me: a) elders fucking with your sense of reality before your own mind has finished growing, and b) the dismissal of one’s feelings and concerns. I have had this happen to me and it is NOT FUN. I have spent the last 14 years trying to recover from my aunt and one of my cousins doing the same things during my teenage years. Hence the pain. Hence why I could relate to that incident in his life and why I could write this piece.

    I think that with the suggestion to him that this incident, traumatic obviously for a child of that age to witness, was a dream…well if you had a “dream” of witnessing a group of injured, dead, and bleeding people around a massive multi-car accident, I imagine you’d probably call it a “nightmare”. So there you have it.

    Thank you, all, for stopping by. I am, as always, honored by your praise and compliments.


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