This poem was written for Read Write Poem Prompt #114: All Over The Map. I decided to continue the narrative that began in “Endgame” and continued in “Emmaus”. The words led me to a dream sequence experienced by the character in both poems; it is constructed in three Six Sentences pieces with two short interludes in between. I hope you enjoy the read.

And BTW, please feel free to look at this poem over on the test blog too.


I. A Dead God’s Chest.

Your mind unfolds, tumbling out jewel-wrapped candy like a cracked-open piñata minted inside a pirate’s fiction. This is the stuff of little boy and girl pretend, of cinemascope phantasms dreamt alive in the dark. It is made out of crowns, galleons, doubloons, and blessed by curses like the clown-painted Aztec god grin baring teeth at you from the face of an underbreath promise: take my treasure and you die, mortal. You laugh like the sunset dancing diamonds upon the water that holds your ship aloft, but a sword swishes wet and red in your ear, drawing its double-dog-dare-you onto a blueprint that looks just like your neck. It’s the eggshell crack that you never hear until your boots break through a wretched, open floor. And on the way down, you will see those boots embedded inside that grin, lodged between eyetooth and incisor as a testament against you, just before your back splits apart upon Hell’s floor.

II. Interlude.

fade to blue
fracture your eyes open
peer through the slow sting of waking and check the clock
watch burning red digits in the darkness
(2:05 A.M.)
wipe the wet from your face
wonder if it was sweat or the ocean that baptized you tonight
and go back under again

III. Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachtahni?

Your prayers are your hands, turned with palms up and lightly cupped like dying lotuses. They’ve been nailed to the desert floor – you are affixed to your own death by a single, thin, rusted spike of iron driven through each hand. Lubricious, the nails revel silently in the steady fountains of flood that your palms offer up as a last chance for absolution. Panic sits in the seat right below your ribcage, turning green, cold, and qualmish deep within your core. Beneath your belly lays the desert floor adorned with crumbled dust in red, peach, and gold; it pushes against you, an arid earthen barricade refusing the sick green terror trying to flow out of your stomach. And since you cannot leak it out, it will force your blood to keep escaping you in penances and black-veiled novenas that will parade in processional after your casket.

IV. Interlude.

break surface
sit up and shove the covers away
wonder if you really did scream
listen for the crash of its echoes against your walls
check the clock again
(4:07 A.M.)
inhale to chase the demons out of your own throat
restrain your armies of tears
and go back under again

V. In The Temple

First, you toss lit joss sticks at your little clay gods, your idle idols, like sweet sticks of TNT to detonate your broken bottle prayers; they stare at you, wordless, with stone eyes and open grins. Next, you crumble to your knees and press your cheeks against cool stone to relieve the fevered longing that still burns in your face. Then, you push the arabesque of the green jade temple floor into your forehead like a rubber stamp from God, hoping to imprint into your mind the memory of what they last told you before you exited the Throne Room and dropped your whole self into this body. After that, you hear the crackle of water tumbling itself in nimble time over the rocks outside; you rise to your feet and follow the sound to its source. Breaching the glass door threshold, you walk into the clean, leaf-fringed garden and kneel at the feet of the little child of water that pools to a stop in the center. You reach out with one hand, slide your fingers into the water, and then you remember what your last instructions were: above all else, never forget to forgive yourself.

Written 2/17/10
© 2010 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 Phantasmagoria

  1. oh very interesting. packed with imagery and thought provoking lines.
    (in part V i thin you have a small I added)
    and i must ask about the title of the 3rd part . as i cannot figure out what does it mean.
    thank you for the read

  2. ishabelle says:

    what a complex work you have done! but u did a great job!

  3. anthonynorth says:

    Intriguing, mysterious – this has the lot. Excellent.

  4. A lot of things going on here to pick apart. Very Eliot-esque in its allusiveness. 🙂 I think the part about the nails reveling was the one that struck me most… there’s something really uncomfortable and vile about them soaking that way.

  5. This wonderful Nicole! I see and hear the voices of addiction here. I am familiar with this as I have had a dear and close family member who had horrible nightmares kicking his problem and he told me of these night dreams and sweats. This is a wonderful piece of work you have done here. Thanks for sharing.


  6. ofheart says:

    so much to absorb, i love that…such a wonderful read, thank you

  7. Liz says:

    Powerful, mysterious, disturbing. I like the back and forth between dreams and consciousness.

  8. Nicole,
    Hi I am sorry to bother you but I have been banned from RWP. At least that is what I think since my account has been suspended. If you know anything please let me know.


  9. Paul Oakley says:

    For me the center of the poem is the most powerful, Nicole. I love the way section III begins, “Your prayers are your hands, turned with palms up and lightly cupped like dying lotuses,” and ends with, “penances and black-veiled novenas that will parade in processional after your casket.” Beautiful!

    As always, a pleasure to read, Nicole.

  10. Thank you, everyone, for stopping by, reading, and commenting.

    @Dhyan: Thanks for pointing out the small error in V. I’ve fixed that. Also, the title of III is (I believe) Aramaic and is what one of the Gospels reported that Jesus cried out on the cross. Rendered in English, it is: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

    @Joseph: and that sense of vile, wicked satisfaction was exactly what I was going for, that they seem to revel in my speaker’s destruction.

    @Pamela: Thank you. 🙂 This work was partially also based on a string of nightmares I had a few weeks ago, but as I believe in the possibility of redemption, I wasn’t satisfied with just ending with two nightmares. I believe that our mind and subconscious will try to speak to us in many ways. I wonder if I’ll continue the story, if nothing else, to see if he wins the fight.

    @Paul: I wanted to relate back to the idea of crucifixion, as it appeared in “Endgame” a few weeks back. You could say that this is the culmination of the nightmare ride; first, he goes into what seems to be a child’s fantasy or dream which turns on him, and then he’s facing the beast.

    I hope I’ll write about this speaker again. Like I said, I want to see if he wins.


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