Portraits of Sleep
Al Maginnes

Portraits of Sleep

Few, seeing sketches
of a child sleeping,
wonder what or if
the child is dreaming.
I saw a drawing once
of myself while
I slept. A note said
that the artist had to stop
when the subject awoke.
I don’t recall a dream
from that uneasy sleep.
The dreams I recall
are frantic, color
and noise, attracting
no one familiar unless
I’m waving from afar,
like the time I watched
Bob Dylan walk into
the hotel where
we were staying, a hood
pulled up to hide his face,
a dog big enough
to saddle ambling
beside him. “We don’t need
no education,” I sang
with Mark while we sanded
sheetrock, smoothing it
for painters to spread
egg-shell white on the walls.
The two of us had both
left college unfinished
so the song held some truth,
speaking as it did
to our jobs, which required
no thought, perfect for
drinking beer and smoking dope
all day. This was not
a dream job for
either of us, though sometimes,
dozing, I find myself
sanding those corners again,
sometimes with people already
living in the apartment,
sometimes naked, one way
dreams have to humiliate
the ones having them. This is
how we wake, confused,
by the world we emerge from,
lives scattered like pieces
of a puzzle dumped
across the table,
a picture we assemble
only to break apart again.

Al Maginnes

is the author of eight collections of poetry, including, most recently, Sleeping Through the Graveyard Shift (Redhawk Press). His seventh book, The Next Place, was published in the spring of 2017 by Iris Press. He has recently contributed to Plume, Lake Effect, American Journal of Poetry, and Tar River Poetry. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, and recently retired from teaching.