Powerless to be Born

A poem by Fred Pollack

In the dream, I both was and wasn’t

an intolerable uniformed bureaucrat

(but everyone wore uniforms)

responsible for lawns around a ministry.

I didn’t mow them myself.

I roamed with whistle and clipboard, supervising

the unreliable Socialists

who tended them. My technique

was lightning inspections at all hours

throughout the twelve-hour day.

I tallied bags of fertilizer.

I allocated water.

I bowed at ladies with bustles and parasols,

strolling the grounds; saluted gentlemen;

clicked heels for soldiers, spoke when they asked

of my old and present battles.

In the dream I rested on a bench and dreamed.

A crowd had gathered and was dancing.

At first they wore traditional garb,

then factory rags, then scanty alien things,

then next to nothing, nothing.

I remonstrated, blew my whistle.

They laughed, but that may just have been high spirits.

In the dream I could not assimilate

the fact that my Ministry, all the ministries,

were gone; there was only grass

I screamed at them to vacate.


Dream Woman

A poem by John Grey

You want to get yourself a woman.


A city-bred, street-wise woman,

who lives in a tenement apartment

in a rough part of town.

And preferably one

already diagnosed with cancer.


She must be working still,

nothing fancy,

house-cleaning maybe,

or at the checkout

of one of those convenience stores

with bars on every window.


Your dream is to walk

her home after a hard day on the job,

hold her up by the arm if necessary,

talk about how much longer

you figure she should be working.


And then it’d be up to bed early for her

or settled comfortably in the cramped parlor

to watch the only non-flat-screen TV on the block,

while you cook dinner.

Nothing fancy.

Probably the same mush as the night before.


Blood on the pillow is no problem.

Nor is worrying about how you’re

going to pay for the treatments

on the little the two of you make.


You spend your lonely days

longing for some tragedy in your life.

Good luck is not working.

John Grey is an Australian poet and U. S. resident. He work has recently been published in New Plains Review, The South Carolina Review, Stillwater Review and Big Muddy Review, with work upcoming in The Louisiana Review, The Cape Rock and Spoon River Poetry Review.