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"Got Ya!" (by Joe DiMino)

“Don’t let the Dream Thieves
Thieve your dreams, boy!”—
The toothless old sot said,
As I surfaced from the underground
Carried along by a hurried wave of commuters.
Back in the tunnel,
Beneath the pavement,
Deep in a throat of darkness
The local rumbled off,
Steel wheels biting into the track,
A Banshee of screeches echoing up from between the mesh vents
Imbedded in the gray, littered pavement—
“Better lay off the booze!” I smiled back
At the red-eyed hoot, our evening ritual,
The ritual played-out between us the past several weeks;
Then he would give me his famous gummy-grin,
Teeth long rotted down,
The stubs left, black and bloody—
I always toss him a coin,
His palm, a contoured pocket of filth, perfect for catching loosely aimed change;

Friday, payday, I bought him some cheap wine—
What the hell, I figured! If not for the grace of God….
“They’re coming , I tell ya! Coming soon. Ya gotta dream sometime…
And when ya do—got ya! Take your dreams and give you theirs,
Ones from hell, boy! That’s what they do,
Steal yours, and give you theirs—dreams boy,
All ya got when there’s nothing else left to live for—
Makes you want to dream more,
Makes you want to drop out—drop and drop
And never stop!” His bloody-gummy-grin.

Showered and determined to quiet the night in,
I plopped on my favorite chair,
A big shell shape
With a large fan of extra cushion,
Fresh made martini to my right,
And a three dollar pulp fiction
From the news-stand ready to spread on my lap—
I read the title again,: “The man who dared not dream!”
I laughed, thought again of the bum and his dream-chant;
Guess that’s why I bought the silly thing, though never having heard of the author, Maerd Feiht—
If he’s successful, that will have to go;
Decided to spell the name backwards, intrigued
And just feeling a need for cryptic foolishness—Dream Thief;
Now if that don’t beat all! I shrugged. And began reading:

Right from the onset,
First few words, if you can call them that—
Oh the spelling was correct, if they would only remain still;
But they appeared to float before my eyes,
Letters changing position, as children in Halloween costumes walking briskly around chairs
In a circle of time,
Anticipating the music to abruptly stop, and then having to bully for a seat—
I thought of my life—always left out;
And all the preparation for that one manic second to finally arrive,
And I could exclaim, the wait was worth it!

I began to dream:
Indeed, a pleasant one;
I dreamt of Mandy, the bosses secretary—
We were having dinner, some plush restaurant,
And she wore one of those sheer blouses and tight sweaters
That emphasize her voluptuous attributes
With such ever appealing peaks and valleys
I have imagined to descend—
She teased with her moist lips
And curvaceous smile as she
Nibbled and poked with her tongue, so-so suggestively
The red center in our olive appetizer—
The waiter arrived and uncovered our steaming main course,
A whole backed fish, fancy French style—I jumped back, aghast!
It was the face on the fish—the lips widening;
It was that bloody gummy smile, “Got ya!”

I awoke, tried to rise from my chair, but was forced deeper by unseen pressure;
I attempted to close the book on my lap, but my arms and hands were weighted to the rests;
The pages cycled before my eyes;
The letters danced around the chairs of my mind—
I was with Mandy again, the stress forgotten;
We were on the sofa in my apartment, becoming quiet romantic
As her garments peeled away—
Oh how I had longed for such a moment,
The unwrapping of all my desires;
That one manic second that stood out above all in eternity;
About to ascend in pleasure
As I had never ascended before,
To touch the naked face of heaven so to speak,
And I felt it in the purest sense—
But what is this, as I glanced back at my oversized cushy-chair?
The back of whose head do I see,
The matted, slimy hair rotating away
As a full face comes hideously into view—
Again that gummy, bloody smile now widening,
Myself being drawn closer,
The deep stench of decay filling my lungs,
A putrid fear I cannot adequately describe—
Now I am looking out;
Mandy with this handsome young man on the couch,
Ever closer entwined;
But I don’t feel it as me anymore—
I am just this huge, bloody-gummy smile;

At this point, you are wondering why I am telling you all this?
In fact, how I am telling you all this—
Well, just like with our young man and my book,
Wanted to touch base with you—
Someday you will dream…and then—got ya!

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