“I’m Going To Have To Fire the Dream Master”

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Nov. 27 2012 8:30 AM

“I’m Going To Have To Fire the Dream Master”

For 11/27 Poem

Image by Leslie Cox.

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Richard Kenney read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes. 

Who fabricates our dreams? Well, we must, or
Anyway some part of us. The myster-
y’s the utter
Ambush of it: how, in night’s apparent theater,
Our fingers clench the velvet armrests, our eyes
Widen with suspense … How could we surprise
Ourselves? And so,
We posit the cloaked figure of the Dream Master. Mine’s got to go.

To be clear: the problem’s not
In the theater itself, albeit shabby, old, ornate,
A nighthawk’s haunt, a lonely man’s demesne.
Nor in the mothy, slow unrolling screen.
Nor in the projection equipment—a little flickery, as to
That; still, the problem’s with the Dream Master.
Ask Carl Jung, spooning schlag in the Schnitzel Platz.
The problem? The problem? The problem’s with the plots.

Not naked, late. Not naked, late, at the lectern, hearing
One’s name announced: Electrical Engineering
Colloquium—again!—the keynote speaker.
Not naked anywhere obliquer
Than doing taxes after a day of doing taxes;
Likewise dishes, any dully punishing repetitive praxis
Requiring finer motor skills and better
Eyesight than one possesses, like disassembling a carburetor
By dying flashlight, or like—Oh, never mind.
These lines
Are beginning to seem
A little too much like one of those damned, idiotic dreams
From which, dear audience, you may take
The Master’s word, you are now requested to awake.

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Richard Kenney's most recent book is The One-Strand River. He teaches at the University of Washington.