The historian is in danger of forgetting
that his subjects spent much of their time asleep,
and that, when asleep, they had dreams.
– Peter Brown
At an average of five a night
that’s over 300 million daily in Late Antiquity
alone, or the Mediterranean Pagan-Christian
Intermediary Period, as my department
Was last rebranded. Funding cut.
Break the seal, play on double fast-forward,
salient images only pause on, note
and if typical stamp TYPICAL
On the side of the tube. Refile.
What’s typical? Coastlines, childhood, slavery,
sandals, markets, temples, personal regrets,
sex, minor deities, livestock—
It’s more of a vibe than a fixed aesthetic.
And what’s not? Not for me to say,
technically, since the new executive order,
but I pride myself on spotting a certain
Otherworldliness, the flash
of an empire rising, or falling, fresh
god-feel, the landlocked soul
forging a channel through bedrock and incoming,
The warm rush of Oneness.
Those, you escalate. Okay. I stole one once.
A good one. But what’s one less?
To hold an echo-light rephrasing ancient truth,
to know duality you never knew
you’d lost, an ocean of it, anytime you like… might say
I’m addicted. I still wake panicking
sometimes; it’s my signature on the sign out sheet.
Never been much of a schemer.
So not the worst, not the best, used to be better
or at least a bit more fulfilling but at least
the union’s got our back now.
If I had my time over
I’d get into development instead,
devise the holy visions of the future, or some such.
That’s where all the real hope is.
Guy Elston lives in Toronto. His poetry has been included in The Moth, Anthropocene, Untethered and other journals. His debut chapbook Automatic Sleep Mode is out in spring 2023 with Anstruther Press.