The doctors know I dream when I'm awake.
I've smoked until my fingertips are brown.
Watching the door, I sit alone and shake.
My sister and her kids, Kelly and Jake,
Played games with me when I'd sink this far down
Until they knew I dream when I'm awake.
When Beth comes now, her smile is bright and
She doesn't want to bring the kids downtown.
She leaves too soon. I sit alone and shake.
The voice is back. It whispers till I ache.
I'm soaked in sweat and tangled in my gown
When they catch me dreaming while still awake.
They've brought more pills that they must watch
They're lifeguards staring at me as I drown.
They leave again. I sit alone and shake.
I'm stuck in a glass bubble I can't break.
The others stand outside and watch the clown.
I wish I didn't dream when I'm awake.
The room grows dark. I sit alone and shake.
© 2000; originally printed in
The Cumberland Poetry Review.
Reprinted by permission of the author.