Why Do We Dream of Dragons?

My friend the waitress talked to me
As we were waiting for the aging credit card machine
To give its verdict
As to the availability of my funds

(She’s very young, and nice –
She smiles at me and talks to me as though
I was someone near her age.
She’s also very talented, an artist)

She’s gradually painted all the walls
Of the Mandarin restaurant she works in nights
While taking college classes days

Her latest painting is of the characters
Of the Chinese zodiac, so called
With a rat, an ox, a tiger,
A rabbit, a snake, a horse,
A goat, a monkey, a rooster,
A dog, and a pig, all beautifully

I asked where the dragon was, and she said

I dream of dragons all the time
I think about them in the night
In worlds of distant fantasy
My mind, there, with their wings, takes flight

When I’m at home or school or here
When I am bored, or, when I’m not —
The world of dragons seems more real
To me, than the oneĀ I’ve actually got

The credit card machine spat out
It’s grudging acceptance of my loan
She looked away as she handed it me
To somewhere far away, alone

Why do we dream of dragons, sir?
And leave off only with regret?

To know we still have worlds to see;
And wings to use
That we have not used

Woods On Fire

(From an experience a friend of mine had many years ago. – Owen)

She sees the woods on fire all around,
She’s driving fast and running from the flame;
The forest is consumed in utter madness,
And if she is not quick, she’ll be the same

It’s both sides of the road, but she’ll keep fleeing
The swarming hatred of the burning hive —
She sees the woods on fire all around her,
But she’ll outrun it yet,
And she’ll

Why Do We Dream of Dragons? (2)

the restaurant slow,
my food to go,
and she, behind the counter
so tall, so young,
so sad, it seemed.
i asked her how she’d been.

she smiled as she spoke, but then –

trailed off.

i asked her,
do you need to talk?
and she said
and so we walked around the way.

i don’t know why i trust you, sir.
it’s kind of weird.

i know it is.
it happens, though.
so what’s been wrong?

she looked across the parking lot;
a man was smoking, furtively.
she said

i made a plan
while still in high school.
what i’d learn
and who i’d be.
and i have followed it.
i graduate next may
from university;
and everything has fallen
into line.

but it’s not what you thought?

it’s not.
i feel an emptiness
not tied to anyone or thing.
it’s made me kind of angry.
and people my own age
infuriate me.
at least,
the ones at school.

what do you think you want?

to be in love.
to be admired.
to live a life worth living.

and how’s that going?

not too well.
finding people
who are interested in me
is not that hard.
i can’t seem to avoid them.

have you ever been in love?
if you don’t mind my asking?

oh, yes.
love involves a lot of pain.

yep, that sounds like love alright.
so, what do you do?

the man smoking threw down
his cigarette and
returned to the pizza place
across the parking lot

i don’t know what to do.
that’s the problem.
i don’t like feeling this way.
i had a plan.
i followed it.
i’m supposed to have it all together.

and you feel like having doubt
makes you different from
everyone else you know?

that’s it exactly.
how did i know you’d know?

i’m sort of a
“spirit father”
for you,
i think.

or i’m a spirit daughter for you.
i’ve never actually met
my own father.

well, spirit daughter:
i don’t have answers, or advice.
many of us doubt:
and many of those hide their doubt.
love is indeed painful,
and life is messy and
refuses often to conform to our plans.
do you plan to work as an artist?

but as you said, “plans”.
i will still work here
through school.

well, for what it’s worth,
i’ve seen your work, and
i believe in you.

she looked at me,
her eyes shining,
then stood up, saying
her break was over.
i picked up my to-go order
from the steps where
we’d been sitting.
she said

thank you
spirit father.
i think that helped.


She knocked on my apartment door
One afternoon at half past four
To introduce herself to me
As new in number 203

Now, I was making pizza then
And listening to Beethoven
I asked her to come in and sit
And turned the music down a bit

We talked about the neighborhood
She said that something sure smelled good
I asked if she would eat with me
And she said yes, did 203

We ate, and drank the wine she brought
And after dinner, we soon thought
We’d go out for a walk perforce
While she told me of her divorce

And as we walked down by the sand
I found that as I touched her hand
She lightly grabbed a hold of it
And so we stayed and talked a bit

Then walked back in the summer dark
Back through the now deserted park
To where we started out before
Her 203, me 204

I looked into her quiet eyes
And then began to realize
The choice that lay before me there
As she had laid her conscience bare

As most men would do, so did I
But it all faded by-and-by;
Just her somewhere, and elsewhere, me –
And nothing left in 203