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Dream Of The Second Self
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By Loren Burns

I could not put distance between myself

And my own image.  I had a dream


In which he appeared, clean-limbed with his horsetail

Tresses, so unfit for manhood.  His entire presence


was salving.  We sat down to meat as tasteless

As the flesh of a pear.  The water at hand was


Warm, and our bread was unbuttered.

The only things we had to say were said


With our minds driving away from each other.

He was absorbed in his lifeless meal,


I was dividing sums, dividing the sums of sums,

Rendering the known numbers down unto the death


Of mathematics.  Unto the death of the senses.

My second self had left table and circled


And stood at my side, watching me tweak the figures,

The numbers shrinking as I pared them down unto nothing.


It was as if, in the clutches of the gin, the cotton

Shrieked out loudly.  Wrung out, I felt.  I, in


Scrubs with socked feet.  He, in the clothes of a passerby,

A tourist in the lap of suffering.


He drew a chair to my side.  I was distracted, with my pencil

Whisking over the page.  He stayed my hands and,


As with all due mercy,

Swept my figures away.  I let the numbers


Disappear.  I was getting better,

You see.  Everyone saw it.