The Deal


The Deal


In my sleep I fall away

Back to the forest

Where it all began

To soft moss and dimpled trees

Where my friends still live

My true friends.


I am happy.


But then they come

All green paper and cement and bearded faces

To whisper in my ear

In uncanny hushes

From here and from there

In the shadows where they wink

In and out

As eyes that hold fire

Hunger for my heart.


Let’s make a deal, they say

In a million million voices

That tug me from the wood

To the rough droopy city

And they extend their cement hands.


But I’m afraid

So I look back to see

If my friends have left.

The forest marches

Root by root

Until my friends are there

The lion with his crown

Roars gold and heat

And behind him Jack

And fiddlers and Humpty

And all the king’s men.


You’ll be lost, the shadows say

But they are afraid now

Uncertain of the calm

Buffeted by ideas

And their cement hands quiver.


Somewhere I hear

A stinging voice

Telling me what I know

And I shudder and quake

For I do not wish to lose

My heart and mind and soul.


An ancient whinny rings

Forward steps the unicorn

Splendid white and opal-horned

Bowing at my side.

Upon her back

Together we rise

In no man’s land

Beneath the tenuous sky.


I reach for the cement hands

Now I understand

Though they quiver and quiver

They do not retract

And we shake a thousand handshakes

And make a thousand deals

But none are what they want.

The lion roars an echo

Sealed within the deals

Defiance and loss.


But atop the unicorn

I smile and weep

Until the handshakes are done

And then watch them slink away

Without a word

Still hungry for it all.

I know that they’ll return

In inky droves

With new deals for me

For all of me

But the forest is still my home

My friends are still my friends

And so long as that remains

I shan’t surrender.

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