Dreams Like That

We’re doing alright, but I know that isn’t the case with a lot of folks. Times are tough for some, and tougher for others. This little poem kind of barged into my head yesterday when I was taking my morning walk; the one without the dog. I actually wrote one after my walk with her earlier—about biscuits—but I’m saving it for another time. Anyhow, this one ought to make you think. Let me know.

Dreams Like That


Push away from the table and the stack of unpaid bills

Trying to miss the pile of dirty dishes

I pour a cold half cup into the sink

Stare at the mess in a mind-blank daze, not seeing


Slam the door, and see the neighbor coming out of his house

I wave, but he just scowls and gets in his car

Probably heard all the screaming and yelling, again

I wonder if we keep him awake at night; then smile


With a squeal of tires, he’s gone; works at the Dollar Mart

Still got a job, lucky bastard; I hate his ass

Almost step in the oil where she parks the old Escort

I need to fix that leak, if I get the chance to


The old pickup grinds and grinds then pops

Sounding like a cherry bomb in a toilet

Got to tune ‘er up when I go back to work, or win the lottery

When she fires, I feel like I’m in a out-a-balance spin cycle


I take the same route I took yesterday; and the day before

All the construction sites fenced and still locked tight

On the news they said the recession ended in June last year

I wonder how the hell they figure that; idiots


Pull over at the site on Elmway; retail mall if they finish it

Park under a tree outside the fence; leave it running

And dig the roach out of my shirt pocket

I spark it, suck in a lung-full and hold it… for-ever


When I exhale, the smell jiggles something in my brain

I think I might’ve left the coffee pot on

Good; maybe the place will burn down

Let the bank have a pile of ashes; jerks


A bell goes off, weak, then fades to a sick sounding low buzz

Bleary-eyed—some good shit, Maynard—I look down

Gage doesn’t work right, so it’s bouncing from 1/4 to E

Makes me laugh watching it; a fiver don’t get you far these days


Put the truck in gear and pull back onto the road

Might as well do the dishes and clean things up

She’ll be home a little after five and it’ll start all over again

Her: What’d you do today? Me: Get off my ass! Not loud at first


I open the door, and the smell tells me I left the pot on

Don’t care anymore, so just drop onto the couch and doze off

Dreaming; sirens, people yelling, banging on the door

I want to get up, but can’t seem to move


You‘ve had dreams like that… right?


Copyright © 2012 C. Mashburn

This doesn’t really fit Samuel’s prompt over at dVerse Poets Pub, but I figure I’ll try to slip it by him anyway. His prompt is FormForAll: On Free Verse, Picasso, and Yachting. Yeah, that’s what I said! Wants a free verse that’s not a free verse or something like that; confused hell outta me. Anyway, go on over there if you got a minute and see what some of the other poets did with it. Me; I’m faking this one.


  1. “With a squeal of tires, he’s gone; works at the Dollar Mart

    Still got a job, lucky bastard; I hate his ass”

    you made me giggle out loud with this one! Always enjoy your humor! I’ve missed reading you, Charles. I actually miss reading a lot of people. So busy trying to sell this book that even my writing is lacking 😦 This was a delightful pause in my day, how I needed it! Thank you! Share with me and peel me away from my chaos anytime! =)

    • Just a glimpse of somebody who lives inside me and comes out for a visit once in a while. There’s an entire commune in there I think. One of em drinks Strawberry Hill like it’s Big Red, then wonders why his head hurts all the time.
      Thanks for the visit and comment, kellie. Gimme a good prompt tomorrow, so I can entertain you folks! I’ve missed a couple Fridays.

  2. Sherry Mashburn said

    Sad subject, unfortuantely too true for many

  3. I like the zany stream-of-consciousness wry take on life, love and nearly everything. My favourite line: “I feel like I’m in a out-a-balance spin cycle”

    • Thank you, Viv! it is a kind of flighty piece; not unusual for me. I have a wry, sarcastic side that consumes, oh, about most of me.
      Thanks for stopping by! Always good to get a comment from you!

  4. tashtoo said

    Oh Charles…a little too close to home for me to call it funny. We just barely got out alive after business failure…the bank didn’t take the dream house..,but I did have to sell it…closed two weeks before the town tax police were going to force their hand (Tell me there isn’t a God!)…I exist in a community where everyone is feeling it…and for the first time in my life, we’re considering taking flight for real…hard to say where the next comment might be coming from….thanks for the write, wordsmith! Loved the character…as he’s one I know too well!

    • Actually, Tash, it wasn’t meant to be funny. Some will see the humor in a few places, but it’s more sarcasm than humor. I certainly don’t mean to make light of the situation so many have found themselves in. We are so fortunate to live in a place where the recession never really hit hard, and, though we are not well-to-do by any means, we are definitely okay. We didn’t have to sell our house–almost a dream house–but we happened to sell it at just the right time. We got our asking price and closed the deal just before the bottom fell out of the real estate market. Blessed, for sure!
      Keep looking toward the light, my friend. There are brighter days ahead! And, there’s plenty of room in Texas! Y’all come on down!

  5. st3v3piper said

    Nailed it. Totally tapped into the readers’ identification zone with this one, and so lyrically, really. Finest kind!

  6. I think many people must feel like that these days…everything gets on top of you at times. Love the description of the old car very original! sounding like a cherry bomb in the toilet!!

    • Thanks, Diane! Ye, it’s rough for some folks right now. I’m hoping it gets better soon!
      I appreciate the comment!

  7. Mary said

    I found the ending pretty sad. Sounded to me like the guy had a fire going and couldn’t get out! (I have been known to go back a mile after I’ve left home if I worried about the coffee maker, even though it has an automatic shut off.)

    • I’ve done that, too, Mary. Same thing with the door. Leaving the garage door open. Good thing I have Sherry to keep an eye on me.
      Yes, it was as you suspected. I see the guy just giving up. Happens too often during times such as we are now in.
      Thanks for the visit and comment!

  8. you added some nice light humor early on in this…the keeping him up with screams and smiling…and hating his ass for having a job…the reality of it though is cold…and it is strangling many along the way…..

  9. hiroshimem said

    I soooo related to that guy when he suddenly panicked and thought he had left the coffee machine on. Thinking about other things, complaining while doing housechores before leaving… and then remembering that you forgot something because you were sooo taken by your thoughts. Live in the now, they said… not always easy though, especially when you don’t have it easy like the guy…

    • So true. It’s hard to pay attention to the details, when so many things are bearing down on you.
      Thanks for the visit and comment!

      • hiroshimem said

        You’re welcome! Thanks for your poem and your great sense of observation!

  10. seingraham said

    You write with a wry comic voice in this Charles but there’s a theme of authentic sadness running through it that I think many people can relate to nowadays … the details make both the story and the big picture vivid

    Thanks for dropping by my blog “In My Next Life” and commenting already, I appreciate it.

    • You’re welcome, and thank you for the return visit.
      it’s interesting that the comic voice seems to stand out in this. When I wrote it, I was not going for funny at all. I was trying to convey the sense of confusion and hoelessness one can feel when things aren’t going well. Tried to show how it affects attitudes around a person–not just theirs–a snowball effect. I’ve been in situations where it all seemed hopeless, and everything around me seemed to be falling apart. It’s like nobody understands, and nothing makes sense.
      Thank you! I appreciate the great comment!

  11. Very relatable and well told. I loved the honest matter of fact voice. Excellente.

  12. This was a nice dream or rather a stream of your thoughts ~ It’s a reality I am very familiar with ~ Cheers ~

    • It wasn’t meant to be a dream–stream of inner thoughts of a man at the end of his rope was what I was shooting for. A reality many can relate to these days.
      Thanks for the comment, Heaven!

  13. Gay said

    The other “voice”. It’s a short story in free verse. The neighborhood not too far from where any of us live. The angst not too far from any of our thoughts. The fall not too far, and the gauges never work just right showing us exactly where EMPTY is! Well writ.

    • Thanks a bunch, Gay. You got it! I think you felt it, too.
      I appreciate the thought-filled comment!

  14. Enjoyed this poem…
    it flowed like it came right from your lips to my ears. Can hear a disgruntled ole fart who has had enough of everything just saying
    “screw the world, I want to get off”.
    Good write. Thanks for sharing.
    Siggi in Downeast Maine

    • That’s funny that you see the character as old. When I was writing this, I was trying to come from a younger person’s point of view; thirtyish maybe. But after your comment, I can see it from an older person, too; maybe somebody who wonders if he’ll ever get another job; too old. And yes, the attitude was screw the world, it don’t care about me, anyway. But, mostly I was trying to convey a “what’s-the-use” feeling. I know some people are going through some hard times right now, and I feel for them. I’m okay right now, but I’ve been there.
      Thanks for another excellent comment, Siggi!

  15. aprille said

    Thank goodness it was a dream. You had me going there for a minute 🙂
    Don’t want to seem flippant about the main line though. I can feel the desperation, reigned in by loss of hope and lassitude.
    Very well done indeed, Charles. Impressively so.It was like a film clip.

    • The poem wasn’t a dream, only the ending. The guy fell asleep, the house caught fire; maybe he died, maybe he didn’t. I left that to the reader’s imagination. But, yes, there was desperation, that turned into hopelessness.
      Thank you for the comment!

  16. I loved this…..amazing poem and sad too.

  17. David King said

    I’ve had dreams like this, right enough. I could relate to it absolutely.

    • I’ve had dreams similar to this too. Only the last stanza has to do with dreaming though. I can see where it might seem the entire poem was a dream, but I didn’t intend for it to be that way. Works either way, I think.
      I appreciate the comment, David!

  18. Well told. This to me like the stream of consciousness poems the other day. You’ve done a wonderful job with the voice in that he is likeable (though flawed!) and certainly sympathetic, and the small details, the oil, the escort, the name Maynard, all those little things are what give the piece weight I think (aside from the resentment which is very easy to relate to.) Glad not you! You are right that it was truly only the stock market that has felt a real lifting of spirits – of course, that was going like gangbusters all year. Crazy. k.

    • The “Maynard” line was something we used to say, “back in the day”. My brother would crack up if he read it, but he hardly ever reads my poems.
      I’m not a stock market person, but I check every day to see what it’s done. I think it’s all rigged, but that’s probably me being paranoid. I do think it will crash one of these days; not sure how bad, but I think it will fall drastically at some point.
      Thanks for the wonderful coment, K. I appreciate you!

      • Hard to say! (I personally hope not! Not that I’m such an investor or have sympathy for hedge funds – I don’t – but it is very hard on people with retirement plans.) I live about a block from the big Goldman Sachs building! A lot of limos parked outside! k.

      • It’s all messed up, K. Yes, hard to say.

  19. K. McGee said

    So many (too many) can identify with this poem. I loved the stream of conscious grittiness to it also. Many lines had me sadly nodding yes. I even monetarily found myself angry, then sad, then angry.

    • Sad, but true;lots of folks hurting these days. Your feelings pretty much mirror how I felt as I wrote it.
      Thank you very much for the comment!

  20. Night terrors, night terrors……oh how I hate them!

    • They can definitely mess with your mind!
      Thanks for the visit and comment, Sherrie!

  21. kaykuala said

    Dream like that? Gosh! Almost near to perfection. Happens all the time that way. Almost relate to what we see and experience everyday. Wonderful humor and a great sense of observation. Brilliant Charles!


  22. Whoa! You trying to pull a fast one on me? Well, at least you linked back to the article, and encouraged others to try and post. That, and checking out someone else’s poem – well then all is forgiven 😉

    Anyway, looking at the poem as a regular free verse piece, it’s an eloquent social commentary, in the voice of one of the disenfranchised. It comes across with a subtle musicality of a rap beat – which is understandable since much of rap is spoken poetry. And it concludes with that open-ended question – effective.

    • I’m not sure what I did to make you think I was trying to pull a fast one on you Samuel. It was an accident, whatever it was, and I hope it didn’t offend you!
      Thanks for the great comments on the poem!

      • I was just making a tongue-in-cheek response, Charles, to your note after the poem! No offense taken anywhere! 🙂

        This was an accomplished piece, and I definitely appreciated the craft that you put in to make the voice of the protagonist as authentic as possible – exceedingly important in the first-person format.

      • Oh, good! I have a sarcastic sense of humor, and sometimes I unintentionally upset folks! Thanks for letting me know!
        And thanks for the added comment on the poem. I very much appreciate it!

  23. Susan said

    I wouldn’t want to be a white male in today’s society…this seems to be their nightmare, indeed.

  24. shanyns said

    So many are travelling this road, and living this dream. You’ve done some poetic justice to injustice and despair here…I like it!

    • Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to be getting any better. Hopefully things will begin to turn around soon.
      Thanks for the visit and comment, Shanyns!

  25. Bodhirose said

    Love what barged into your head, Charles…oh, yes, can relate on many levels..as sadly, so can many others. Idiots and jerks! Love the long pull on that roach and holding it…for..ev…er.. a little reprieve from the pressure.

    • Thank you very much! It is rough for a lot of folks, but I sure hope it starts getting better soon.

  26. claudia said

    great bit of social commentary charles…the frightening thing is when everything starts to become unimportant and you captured that damn well sir

    • I hate to admit it, but on some level, there are things becoming unimportant to me. I say we’re okay, and by comparison it’s true, but a lot of what I feel through the character–on some level–is going on in the back of mind as well. Don’t get me wrong, the entire scene is fictitious, but… well, I think you probably understand; a lot of angst in the world today.

  27. I have to agree with Claudia and everybody actually Charles! You captured this so well. I can’t work, haven’t been able to in 10 years and I hate it! I make jewelry, type papers for teachers who’ve gone back to school, whatever I can do to make a few bucks. Then I dig into my small bag of coins or whatever I’ve earned and go back to my doctor and practically beg her to release me to go back to work. Her response is always the same, “Honey you have to accept the fact that you’re disabled. If you can stand 30 minutes in one place I’ll release you.” I always leave crying, because I’m only up to 5 minutes and those minutes put me in bed for the next two weeks.
    Paying bills, buying groceries and the meds I so desperately need can be a nightmare sometimes. Watching television and hearing how much better the economy is than last year, makes me laugh until I have an asthma attack and the medication I can’t afford is beyond my reach, unless someone is kind enough to give me an extra inhaler.
    My son doesn’t live with me, but my poor kid has started taking on my burdens. I always have to call him and ask him to buy my meds for me or groceries, because once again I didn’t have enough left over to buy food.
    Oh goodness!! Here I am going on and on, but I have to say that I feel a bit better. Reading your piece made me feel like I’m not alone and instead of feeling sorry for myself, on occasion only, I have to thank God for the roof over my head, electricity, bath water, and a whole bunch of fruit in my fridge. I have more than so many other people have and I have to thank God for that.
    Be blessed my friend.

    • Thank you for the visit and comment, Elizena.
      I wish things would get better for you, and lots of other folks, too, but I do aadmire your persistent positive outlook. Keep believing, and keep looking at the good stuff! God bless you!

  28. David King said

    Vivinfrance echoes my thoughts exactly. Like her, I loved “the out of balance spin cycle”, a good example of the freshness and vigour that runs right through this poem. I loved every moment of it.

  29. Raivenne said

    I’m reading this and thinking “What on earth is Charles smokin’?” and that’s BEFORE I got to roach line!

    Whoa boy! This dream is likely far too close to someone reality.

    I don’ know whether to tells ya to let ’em out so more ’cause they be funny or keep ’em lockeded up ’cause they scary! I betcha dem dVerse peeps a scratchin’ deys head (and laffin’ while cringin’) too!

    • Yes’m there is much reality in this situation. Unfortunate, but true.
      Thanks for the great comment, Raivenne!

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