Mr. Hyde

Do all go mad in the laboratory of dreams?
The drawers of our bedrooms swirl with the potions
of postcards, foreign coins, little pictures
of vanished friends. But when sleep strikes
the mind, is anyone gone? Is any city strange?
We turn the lunatic switch of our reading lamps
and our bodies sprout the muscles and fur of dreams.

Common as this transformation is, it has never
been observed. The experiment suspended,
we wake and wash, though our right minds
are slow to return. We must first forget what pains
we suffered, what crimes we committed,
what love we took while haunting the cobbled
and coal-black Londons of our fiendish dreams.

While we are awake, our fiends dream of us:
hairless in an office, skittish in a parking lot.
Sometimes we whistle for no reason in a stairwell.
We fawn and sulk through sex, giving the compliments
we wish to receive. We, the sheep of our beasts,
will sometimes huddle together for company.
We are their nightmare, and they say we are not real.

First published in The G. W. Review, Fall 2010.