Sandman Express VII

all that’s left at the end 
of this story’s a struggle, a 
penniless offering from the 
scantest corners of a forest, the 
scent of a long-forgotten tear like 
	melted yellow perfume
and a snap of the fingers that sent up 
a parachute like a tornado of 
	fried tumble weeds, a 
pocketful of gleaming teeth 
strung up beneath a pear tree and 
an old man dragging a pickaxe 
who’d forgotten how to smile

but it didn’t begin that way, back 
when the eyes of the world were 
on us and we were shoveling 
sunshine with our fists,
the Sandman chooglin’ like a
	busted air guitar 
over a cornfield and under a
washed-up tombstone, 
his gleaming green wheels 
whirling like the 
	tipsy end of a sunflower

what’s the fix? i asked the man, heading
west with a map in his hand, the southern tip 
torn to bits, when out of the blue, that 
train track, swift as an old lightning bolt,
switched to the left like some kind of
makeshift hillbilly highway and 
catapulted my companion and me 
straight through a glade of 
	fairy dust and evergreens

it always shows up when you need it,
answers my hippie wizard pal, swinging 
on a hammock to the left of the 
forest floor, and it don’t matter what 
your map says, a fork in the road 
is always for taking
*pops the top on a ginger beer and 
mixes himself a heady mule*
hey you, he says, waving one 
stern finger in my face as he 
tosses me a cupful,
you’re measuring yourself 
by the wrong stick
you gotta give your soul 
	room to grow
it ain’t about being perfect
it’s about being whole 

*grabs my hand and with a 
snap of his fingers, that lazy hammock 
billows like a giant stack of seafoam 
and sends us
through layers of evergreen like two figs 
swinging from an upside-down leaf*

to a sky full of ultraviolet dragonflies and 
	tie-dye butterflies
lighting up the clouds like 
	crowns of scarlet begonias
and in the center, a tower of green giraffes 
surfing on the treetops of the afternoon

now listen good, he says, looking like 
some kind of 
	Casey Jones
this world is made of harmony, and the only one who 
keeps your ears from hearing it is you *swings on a 
giraffe’s neck and plucks a pear from a golden tree*
there’s a voice that whispers through 
every wind—pay attention to it—that’s 
the soul of the world whistling as it works
and you gotta stop and ask yourself this: 
if all the universe is smiling, then 
	why aren’t you?

your biggest mistake is thinking you gotta 
fix yourself *hitches a ride on a dragonfly and
skates across a purple sun* the world you live in 
isn’t real at all, but it’s made to separate you 
from yourself like a bunch of noise that 
covers your ears in angry static
and it’ll have you chasing self-acceptance like 
you’re slaying dragons, except you’ll never 
be able to win, he says—now that’s the
truth of it—your insufficiencies are an illusion
to be is enough
	to be is a triumph

and just then, that one-winged tangerine sky 
opened up and started playing the 
dankest jug band blues i’d ever heard
as my hazy-eyed conductor cut the 
strings on our rusted old parachute
i got the strangest feeling there was
	nothing left between us but air

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