[poetry] A Meta-Oneiric Ballad

This is a recounting of a dream I had at the end of June, 2010, which I wrote down in early July of the same year. I do not claim it to be particularly meaningful, only that it has the semblance of a deeper meaning. I found it interesting mainly because it was a dream about the nature of fiction. It’s written in a ballad meter resembling iambic tetrameters, but I find that language naturally has a less iambic and more anapestic rhythm, so many of the feel are three or even four syllables long.

A Meta-Oneiric Ballad

I am in the theater, waiting to see
The Worst Movie Ever. (It’s a play.)
And an actor comes out, (perhaps it’s me,)
And, pacing around, begins to say:

“Consider, now, the contrast between
Science fiction and fantasy.
Both involve that which has never been,
And in all probability never will be.

“In both, the stair between the ground
And the stage, is formed by a single step.
But in fantasy, the step goes all around
While in sci-fi, it’s hidden around the back.”

And then he steps back, the play begins,
His words ensnare me as in a maze.
Sci-fi and fantasy, uneasy twins?
Uncertain, I try to paraphrase:

The audience suspends its disbelief
And whatever takes place atop the stage
Has semblance of joy, or rage, or grief–
But it stays where it is, upon the page.

In fantasy, they blur deliberately,
Admittedly, for the step is seen;
In sci-fi, they hide it, pretend to be
Realistic (though they never have been).

So which am I watching? Sci-fi, I bet–
But before I can notice, it’s all ended.
The curtain is down, and I will get
To meet the actors, the step mended.

They come down to join us, one to say,
“So, do you weep when my character dies?
What? No? Why not? How dare you not cry
When you witness death before your very eyes?”

“It was only a play.” “Only a play!
The bastard! Did you hear that, my friends!
I’m dead, and he says it’s only a play!
Perhaps he won’t laugh when his life too ends!”

He strikes me a blow, and I strike another.
I feel now that I am part of the play
Which never stopped, and I cannot bother
To stop and think when I could slay.

It spreads like an infection, or tries to
But most of the audience doesn’t catch on.
I tell one of them what they should do
But in the telling, the feelings are gone.

The audience files out of the hall,
I follow, and feel all ties to it sever.
I consider returning, but do not; after all,
It is, I remember, the Worst Movie Ever.


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