A BEDTIME STORY

By Ryan Kennedy

A dream rises off you in a feverish tide, and

Once more you’re searching for somewhere to hide.

The scent of your madness, that sickly-sweet dread, hangs

In the air as you writhe in the bed.


There were times, when I woke you, and had to disguise that

I’ve never known fear like the look in your eyes.

Without fully waking you’d drift back to sleep;

The moment forgotten, my secret to keep.

You wake in the morning and tell me you’re fine, and

You’ve already left all your monsters behind.

But sometimes I see you when you don’t see me

And I know in that moment you’ll never be free.

Whether your demons were giants, or you were just small, as

You dream you forget you grew up just as tall.

You talked in your sleep once and said, with a grin:

“Promise you won’t let me turn into him?”

You sunk into silence, like you truly believed

That I was the one that could grant your reprieve.

Your breathing was peaceful, you gripped my hand tight and

The gallows were empty, at least for a night.

And in tacit compliance I already knew, you

Slept in my promise; what else could I do?

But I'm blind to your trauma and the form that you're facing;

It would help if I knew the thing doing the chasing.

I remind myself, daily, your burden runs deep, and

It’s not just a menace that appears when you sleep.

I forgive you your rage, your occasional malice;

Not everyone’s mind is a memory palace.

But further and further you push me away, and

The thread of forgiveness is starting to fray.

I put you before me at great personal cost, now

I’m ashamed that I’m bitter at all that I’ve lost.

That scent is in days now, though I’m used to the smell;

This rising damp prison is stained with your hell.

It hangs in the air; in the dust, in the light, and

I breathe it in now as we edge toward night.

My silence is awkward and constant and rough;

You’ll talk when you’re ready just isn’t enough.

Your burden is heavy, and now mine is too;

You’re what happened to me, fuck what happened to you.

I tried to be strong, but I’ve caught your disease; in

A moment of sleep my thoughts do as they please.

It scares me to death that you’d leave if you knew;

In my dreams I am running, and I’m running from you.


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