Cathexis Northwest Press

© 2018 

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Suite: Dreams


The welfare of the workers has been put

In my hands after my leadership skills

We're recognized while tending a hot grill. 

I still don’t know what the Company sells


But I fake it while emphasizing good

Customer service. Positive thinking

Is our strategy. There’s a mean girl who’s

Gunning for my job. She knows somehow dark


Secrets. My salary, in coins, is too

Heavy. I offload it to bribe the cops.



I’m six years old but, oddly, have a wife

In her hot 40s. She wants to make love.

Lincoln Logs litter the floor, but the pieces

I need to put a roof on my cabin


Are gone. Can I finish it with Legos,

I wonder. Wife says, You’re 90 years old! 

And I am, and she wants to make love. Well,

Turns out, my very presence elicits


Orgasm! I’m gratified, but Wife says

Screw my presence, she wants a bungalow.



The space is bright, without visible walls,

Filled with fresh air, with room to spread

My muscular arms. My crisp, white lab coat

Is the envy of my disembodied colleagues,


Who gingerly present me butterflies

Whose flights are done. I am the transfixer:

Memorializing each brilliant,

Flitting life by pinning their delicate


Bodies onto a black background with pins

Of light indistinguishable from stars.



By throwing all my lean mass into my

Upthrust arms, like squeezing a tubular

Balloon from one end, I gently lift off

From the dirt expanse that was our playground,


Which lay beside measured rows of desert

Date palms, and I rise above the game I

Can’t play because no one explains the rules.

Kids say the date grove’s full of scorpions—


Above the fronds, I can see it’s safe. 

You are free, I shout, to play hide and seek.



I wind up assisting the neighborhood’s

Favorite babysitter. She is my 

Mentor, and I can’t let her know about

My crush. I rock a crying baby and


She puts it to sleep with a touch. Next she

Shows me how to rummage all the drawers 

And cabinets for the parents’ secrets—

We find prescription pills, dildos and guns.


I’m worried she’ll find the love note I wrote,

Foolishly lost in the kitchen, and laugh.



Catty-corner at an intersection

In the gaudiest section of Scottsdale

Are the competing sperm banks trying to

Outbid each other for my stuff. I’m in


The driver’s seat, figuratively and

Literally, negotiating by

Bullhorn from my restored Lincoln Mark V.

Look how perfect his kids turned out, they say—


Smart and beautiful! Women from the banks

Line up, eager to get mine without me.



Owls turn up in my initiation

Dreams—in transitions, like twilights, when owls

Stake out first-string hunting spots. Lakota

Custom says death follows them. To the Greeks,


Owl was the familiar to Wisdom. In

Truth, they are monstrous beauties, evolved with

Asymmetrical skulls and silent flight.

They mess their nests with filth and bones. In their


Own woods, they’re apex predators. Greek and

Lakota are right—nothing escapes them.




The game show host, a specter of unknown

Moral bearing, puts me on the spot in

An elimination round. The topic 

Is “Things that Are Sifted.” I think, goodbye,


Grand prize. My gut tightens and hands shake. I’m

Stumped—until—flour and sand—and the tension builds,

Then, Starlight! Rain! Justice, faith, the poor!

Every noun that I could ever love


Is an answer. The audience starts the

Wave. I prove that I know each of their names.



The moving-day dream starts with the movie

Of Mom throwing out that half-full box of

Cap’n Crunch. Something’s wrong with this picture.

Unlike in life, in the dream I know we’re


Walking away from the first house, and I

Take my time gathering all the dream things 

I had hidden in dream nooks and crannies.

This dream visits often. Always when I


Wake I question where my dream things are now,

Then wonder what they are, were, or will be.




The night before we told the children I

Was leaving, I finished moonlighting at

3 A.M. and fell onto a cot in

The basement with a prayer: Show me the


Right thing to do. Crazy owl dreams followed—

They were flocking on a playground while my

Wife gave birth. Up early so I could rouse

The small one, I was tongue-tied when she said


She’d had a dream: She’d gone out to play but

Stinky owls stopped her. Hell of an answer.

Peter Junker lives in Atlanta, GA. His book "Things Will Get Worse" was published by Kudzu Leaf Press in October, 2019.