by Nikoletta Nousiopoulos
Penelope, in Sleepspeak with Homer
I choose this dream-room for its cosmic windows. On days of heavy rain, I lie beneath the sky-roof and sounds of wet explosions erase me. Perhaps, if I were more situated than crossed at the knees, then rain water would exhilarate my skin & not make the room so empty.
But in the outside world there’s a rugged noise I recognize. Where the king sleeps, without me, is a star left to shatter. If I made planetary decisions, the moon would loop around my belly, making a shadow of me. The world outside of dreams is not shielding.
One dream said, "You are some kind of bird." Then where are my wings? "You are a tree so lovely. Olive leaves fear your luster. Alone, you tremble when the wind takes hold. You startle as if the sky has fallen." In both worlds the meaning is always the same.
There’s a beach about a mile from here. Once we sat in folding chairs, hoods over our heads, not speaking. That was our only choice. Now, there’s no salt grains left in my mouth, but only an aftertaste of roses. Remember, you told me that was the best day of your life?
I’m reciting sounds of war and love into a shell cadaver. Why don't my echoes boomerang back to him? I was a goddess once. My hair made him drunk and my scent was enough. Then came spring and the birds dragged him away. They too loved the song he sang.
creation, the moon, innocent longing
In sleep-talk, I invite a curse of stone.
A penny sinks into little water atoms,
deep into the coma of a wish.
I was promised blueness and tender
shadows, but my greedy tongue
tasted a new star; now I am breathless.
The moon of my mind starts emptying her pockets.
This cosmic ritual, my euphoric turning off of life,
tangles the riot-hair of angels.
Maybe I will collect the world
in the upper layer of sky,
where the dream is eaten wild.
I construct a child of lily dust,
bone scents, and white ribbons.
I cradle the trembling sun in my lap.
I am choosing to give up my heart.
Not to any particular person, but to no one
I imagine it beating meticulously relaxed,
turning in orbit and serene.
This is a decision I have pondered until my stomach hurt,
my liver shivered, my teeth chattered and grinded together
while I dreamed.
Some things in life hurt too much just to feel.
For this reason, I am giving up my heart.
One day it will return to me
as my back turns, lifts after
Nikoletta Nousiopoulos published "all the dead goats" in 2010 with Little Red Tree Publishing. Her poetry has appeared in Meadowland Review, Connecticut River Review, and Looseleaf Tea. She works as an adjunct professor of writing at Mitchell College, Three Rivers Community College, and Johnson & Wales University.