to melt the shackle

it wasn’t morning yet
but he woke up
to the sounds of cheering
and applause 

He looked around
and saw 
shadowy figures with
elongated faces
and bright, white eyes
staring at him

“Congratulations, they said. You
have awakened.” 

“What in the hell?” he 
said, looking around 
startled. “Who are you?” 

“The messengers,” replied 
the shadows. “We are very pleased
to announce that you 
may collect your prize 
whenever you are ready. You’ve 
earned it.” 

“What? What did 
I do?” 

“You awakened. In a world of 
sleepers
you woke up
and are therefore eligible for
ascension. You might follow
us through the hole 
in the ceiling whenever you
are ready. All that’s left
to do here is
to melt the shackle.” 

“What?” he said

Then one of the shadows
have him a small 
bottle that smelled strongly
of gasoline 
and a box of matches 

The other shadows
pointed to 
his desk, to all the papers
stacked on it
and under it 
and all around it

“Those are my poems,” he said

“Indeed. They represent 
everything that keeps you 
tied to this world. Your shackle.
Burn your shackle and melt it
away so you can ascend
and take flight. The time 
has come.” 

“I worked all my life
to write those 
poems,” he said

“Yes, you did. But now that you
are awake you see that
they’re all in vain. For 
nothing is real
on this plane. It’s all 
a dream, of course. You have 
designed it pretty nice. A simple
dream spent entirely in
the confines of a narrow room
with low ceiling. Drinking
and smoking and 
writing all day long 
and late into the night. It’s 
a beautiful dream. No family,
no friends, no communication with the 
outside world, and no desire
for any. You’ve thus taken 
a shortcut to awakening, but it’s by
no means illegal. You’re still
eligible for ascension. So,
whenever you’re ready, we are.” 

He watched the shadows

The shadows watched him

He reached out for the 
gasoline and matches, looked over
to the desk and the stacks
of paper

Looked for a long
time

Closed his eyes
and went back to sleep 

The shadows were gone
by the morning
but they left the gasoline and
matches 
behind

He got out of bed
went to the desk 
by the window
opened the blinds
and started writing
another poem

a dead body in the room

there was a dead body in the room

Had to be

Else where did the smell
come from?

Every time he’d turn around to catch
a ghost or a zombie
from the corner of his eyes the smell
would slap him

A smell of death

He decided he’d look around for the
dead body
but later

He didn’t have the energy now
or the disposition
or anything

He only wanted to sleep
some more
He just woke up and needed a good
nap to recover

Perhaps there were times when it
didn’t make sense
but now, today, nothing made more
sense that this

All you need is a healthy
dose of chronic depression and it makes
sense

Just like not cleaning the room
and not taking a shower
in a time longer than memory can be
bothered to remember

So he paced back to the bed
and climbed in
and dragged the blanket, heavy with
caked dirt, on his body
and closed his eyes

He fell asleep in spite of
the smell of death
coming closer still

The dreams were always a little bit better
in the nap taken after
waking up from
the night’s sleep

One time he even dreamed he
was a published author. Not a great or
even a good one, but published

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