Dream, Ohio, 2009 A.D.

This is one of two poems written for Read Write Poem #91: The Self As Memory, Or Vice Versa. This prompt was courtesy of guest celebrity poet Joseph O. Legaspi and invited us to, using two of his photographs and memories we want to either remember or forget, freewrite and compose two poems. This poem was the “what I want to forget” category. Our family moved frequently when I was growing up, for reasons that I have yet to completely understand; I wrote this poem using some descriptive phrases from picture #1 and incorporated an animal — the spider.

If you’ve not read poem #1, I encourage you to do so.


Life is crucifying me tonight.
That motherfucker has pinned me to the wall
of nightmare
and has strapped a highway belt
across my stomach. It knows why: I could count
the dots in my skin, and they look like

Milwaukee, Winnepeg, Minneapolis, Phoenix,
Flagstaff, and Middletown, Ohio – each
in its concrete, freeway exit, and mile marker glory. My back
is pockmarked and bruised from their eruptions
beneath my surface, Richter scale aftershocks
sent up my spine every time that my roots
were torn out of soil. I swear that
if I judge from the numbness in my sacroiliac alone,
then I must have a legion of neurons missing.

Friends used to slip through my fingers. Their faces
would become ghosts breeding and multiplying
in my little arms while I lay in the backseat
of a highway-bound wagon
that exacted sick satisfaction from my veins
every time its tires traveled
outside the limits of whatever city
that I was calling home. When I was twelve, I thought
that I might as well tattoo “new kid” into my forehead, write my
desolation and difference
in six inch-inch high black letters. Dig the needle in
extra-deep to make it bleed,
make the weeping outside match
the weeping inside. Meanwhile, I
pretended to like turning into tumbleweeds and dust
every third year, pretended that the cry for adventure
that called up from bones was my own. But I don’t, and
it isn’t.

And now, I have these artifacts:
pine trees from Fr. Tuthill
that began growing out of my feet in 1983
until my legs started mistaking themselves
for wooden trunks,
and Sonoran, spine-studded saguaro
that began shooting out of my back in 1985 –
when I was fourteen, I even began
ejecting spines out of my skin
to warn passersby: I am nomadic, and I am
Snow from the shrinking shoulders
of Lake Michigan’s shoreline
has dusted my collarbone since 1977, and
a Manitoba, square-block ice house
was built in my brain back in 1978. Not only that,
the Great Miami River
wound its blue-green, ribbon self
around my throat back in 1988 – and I am still

But in this dream right now, I see trees. They beckon me,
scattered in sunlight
that casts gold onto a bed of broken leaves
at their rooted feet. This spray of light,
edged with rainbows written in shades of yellow,
spills onto a forest clearing. Above me,
a canopy of leaves shattered by sky
dangles a fuzzy, silver web from its belly. In it,
a spider weaves,
casting thread from point to point
in an octagonal dream,
connecting my past to my future
in a serene telegram from the Great Spirit. And
it reads:

Because you were sand scattered
across the back of America, nothing will ever fetter you
unless you choose to rest your wrist
inside the open-and-close empty of a manacle’s mouth. You will find
freedom in your loneliness. Carry dreams
pulled from the feet of your cities in your head,
spin the future from your pen. Pull pain
from your mud, fold yourself into a lotus –

and when you open up again,
you will project the star canopy sky
out of your arms for others to see. And thank the Great Spirit
for your pain – it is who you are: but you must
never hold onto it so tightly
that your limbs freeze into brittle and broken.

I sit in the clearing below the web,
study the message again, marvel at the truth spelled out
in furry silver, and let the sunlight
fall upon my face
until it is time to leave this chimerical circle
once cleared by Algonquin hands. It is time now
to go home.

Written 9/8/09 and 9/9/09
© 2009 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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11 Responses to Dream, Ohio, 2009 A.D.

  1. Pingback: Bonfire, Atlantis, 15000 A.D. « Raven’s Wing Poetry

  2. barbara_y says:

    Wonderful metaphor. makes me think I’d have a very small and dull tatoo

  3. Annamari says:

    I need to return to this one…

  4. Linda says:

    I loved your poem. I need to take better care of the earth and have more respect for nature. Thank you for posting this reminder. It is like a serene reminder from the Great Spirit.

  5. davidmoolten says:

    I do like how this complements the first poem. The style on the page is similar but the voice and spirit is quite different, more refined and effete, an end and not a beginning.

  6. Damian says:


    I really liked the connection between your two poems – they complete each others thoughts, in a way. It feels as if the first was written in the heat of adolescence, and the second in the twilight years (with regard to mood, rather than content). I really loved how you used similar imagery to portray very different moods and messages.

  7. poetryaboutart says:

    My favorite stanza is the fifth one, which leads into the message from beyond. In this stanza, I can see how the photo prompt influenced the poem.

  8. Irene says:

    It started out like a flip side to the first poem, and then it soared on its own strength. I find it moving and eloquent, Nicole. I like the tree metaphor working here.

  9. This is a great compliment to the first poem. There is a great American tension here between the sense of rootlessness and freedom. Lots to ponder in it.

  10. nathan says:

    My family moved about once a year when I was a kid so this one really speaks to me.

  11. awesome couplet to the first nicole. enjoy the parallels drawn through time and the geography presented throughout. futuristic and fun for sure. -lawrence

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