Fear of Dreaming


This flummoxing affliction.
Cries carom off the bedroom door
and box his father’s ears:
an invitation to mad Martians
who march with coffers of roses
with thorns, which he fears.
“It’s bad! It’s ruined! I want it!
It’s gone! I need it! I need it!”
His terror grinds like rusted gears.
This inclement condition of a
knife drawn through his dreams,
of the permanence it shears.
A box of hand-grenades
is in his head, and the pins
fall from his face as tears.


G W Sisk



Watering the Horse

“…pain…lots…sometime in the next ten days…without warning…”

The doctor might as well have warned my penis will fall off sometime in the next ten days.  So how does one wait for something that’s possibly more painful—and less productive—than childbirth?  With practice slides down a giant sword into a vat of iodine?  Or nude skydiving through a Saharan sandstorm?  Maybe body surfacing at a dry ice plant in Juneau?  All three?  But in the meanwhile, I have to pee.  I have to pee now and I’ll have to pee again in fifteen minutes.  Except, I really won’t have to pee at all.  My brain says, “Warning, sir!  Your urine reservoir is nearing critical capacity.”  I reply that I peed just fifteen minutes ago, during the last ad.  Then—

“Negative, sir.  It is time to relieve your bladder.”

“Are you kidding?  You can’t say that while the leaders are on the eighteenth green.”

“I am sorry, sir.  If you prefer, it is time to drain the dragon.”

“Dragon?  I appreciate the compliment, but I really can wait.”

“Would you consider leaking the lizard, sir?”

“That’s the same thing.  Leave me alone.”

“I know you are a reasonable man.  How about paying the water bill, sir?”

“Clever, but I’m staying put.”

(Five, four, three, two, one…)

“Damn it!  I’ll be right back.”

“Very good, sir.”

(Fifty-five, fifty-six, fifty-seven…)

“Nothing!  There was nothing!”

“Did you not make the bladder gladder, sir?”


“I am sorry, sir.  My sensors are normally quite reliable.  But do you not think there is still some steam to release from the radiator, sir?”

“There’s some steam, but it’s not in my radiator.”

“I am regretful of your present circumstance, sir.  Perhaps, after the next television ad, you will be able to shake some dew off the lily.”

“What?  Where are you getting this stuff?”

I am sorry, sir.  You left your tablet open.  Shall we change the subject to last night’s French lesson?”

“Lesson?  Uh, sure.”

“Tres bien Monsieur.  Oui oui maintenant?”

“That’s not real French.  Damn it, now I have to go again.”

“To splash the pirate, sir, or to fight the fire?”

“No, to visit the wizard, smart ass.  I know a few of those, too.”

“I am impressed, sir.  I took you as a piddly man.”


“I am sorry, sir.  I was going to say you could point piddly Percy at the porcelain.”

“Screw you.”

“Sir, I am your brain.  You have been screwing with me for a period of decades.  Is this a self-indictment?”

“Screw you twi…  Damn it!  I’ll be right back.”

“Leave no stone unturned, sir.”



Gavin W Sisk

July, 2016





Walked past an unconscious male
sprawled heavy on the clinic floor,
listless legs lying in the doorway
where his surprised knees had failed.
Plaid shirt ripped from his chest,
buttons scattered across the tiles,
wax face lumped around a mask:
a broken doll in cardiac arrest.
Middle-aged, except maybe not so
middleage after this cut-short day.
Medics shocked him, pumped him up,
but not to flesh that looked like life.
Raggedy Andy without the red yarn,
or a painted smile, or button eyes.


I yawn and wait behind the wheel;
watching immigrants cross mid-block
for marrow meals from market trash:
steel seared curses artfully slipped.
Christ, can’t they cross at the lights!
Seagulls menace a murder of crows
dredging the curb for burgers and fries.
Dodging wheels, they feed from fate.
And so for the gull who lags until last;
I watch the Express roll over his back.
Vainly commanding enfeebled wings,
cocks up his head, cries open his beak;
silently screams surprise at death,
learning too late that he was alive.

March, 2014

Evening Prayers

Have you heard a stone
skip across a frozen pond
at night?
Ringing blue beyond the fires
it caroms off everything,
absorbed by nothing.
Pewless in a dark church,
pleading for a choir,
it licks lambent vibrato
from ear to ear with
nothing soft to settle on.
It could warm a pang
but lasts without us,
as if the moon holds still
while prayers wander
into the woods.

Feb. 2014


All her other lives: ingratiating,
played beyond our window frames.
Frost caught between universes;
parallels cutting through supernovas,
not waiting for a bang. 
Faster than that!

“Don’t write me at this address.”
I get it–her galaxy
skittering across the moonlit ice,
caroming from muffled laughing fires,
looking for the Horsehead Nebula
while we wait and buck our reins.

Parallels to parallels to where?
To all these campfires,
to carriages and restless hooves,
all the gracious calculus defining
moonlight traced on frosted panes?
The bang?

She sees love scratch a figure eight,
embellished with a three-turn:
a lovely note on ice.
We watch and stamp and steam,
hamed to the night;
yet our breath never reaches her stars.

Gavin W Sisk
Jan, 2014


Bless me father,
I might be wrong about this:
all the angels bound to pins,
salvation sewn in scapulars.
I am not worthy to receive him:
your chalices of sweet red blood,
his body, die-cut flat and round.
Say the word and I shall be healed.
Sit, kneel, stand, repeat.  Alleluia.
I say, may the spirit be with you.
Take my song and sign of the cross,
and my heart raised to dusty beams.
Go in peace.  I sing, alleluia!
I don’t want to go to hell.
May the spirit be with me.
I don’t want to die alone.

G W Sisk