I awoke from a six-year slumber
of drinking and living
in the woods.
The scene seemed like a dream,
swallowed up by the heat and humidity
of the Florida swamp.
Each year, the weight sweats
off my arms and legs
like a snake shaking off old, useless skin;
I am so feeble that some days I awake in a bed of feces
because I can’t pull myself up
from the sleeping bag and into the trees.
Each year, the weight piles up in my stomach,
swelling my liver and kidneys,
digging my fingernails
into the flattened dirt floor of my tent
every time I am stabbed with pain.
Each month, I awake
to drunken, unconscious bodies
that are piled up around camp;
the smell of their unwashed and rotted skin
makes me think of Auschwitz and hospitals.
I can’t say exactly where
these people are from,
where I met them,
or who they used to be;
those are just minor details anyway.
I do know who won’t touch me
when I am sleeping,
who will share his Icehouse with me
when I am thirsty,
and who will grab all the booze
when I turn my back.
I know who not to fuck with,
his belt slashing my face,
the bruises and gashes lasting for weeks.
Each day, I forget something new.
I forget the details of my face
because we don’t keep mirrors around camp.
I forget the stories of my son’s childhood,
the happiest days of my life.
I forget the day, the month, the year.
Good thing I have cigarettes
to pass the time.
Each minute, I pray
that this dream will end.
It’s the kind of dream
that comes from buried regions,
the kind of dream that I wish
I could’ve shaken myself out of years ago.