top of page

in the dream things are as they should be


it’s so cold everyone’s bundled

like bank robbers ski masks

and balaclavas one man misread

the email as baklava and sits

on a park bench rubbing honey

and pine nuts into his beard

phyllo crumbs falling down his parka

and across the street

an every-other-weekend dad

makes pancakes for his son promises

the first one is always the worst

the skillet demands a sacrifice

in the apartment upstairs

a woman tells her beloved

she wants to peel apart

his thighs like two slices

of american cheese his whole

heart a purse dog trembling

he wags his pale ass for that

kraft aphrodite inside the post

office a printer cartridge explodes

they’ll have to repaint every

envelope white again

black ink leaves

ellipses everywhere on every

person place or thing

each noun an omission

of words


in the dream things

are as they should be

a dog swallows its own

leash every pawnshop

ring finds a fat finger

a venus fly trap

convinces the room

it’s more person than plant

grandma’s in the corner

eating poker chips a moth

you nicknamed icarus

cooks against a lightbulb

in the dream your

death is a montage

before a death

the swinging lantern

the flying cinder

fire light billowing

your life collapsing

open like a telescope

I look through

as long as I’m asleep

you aren’t dying

is the most

ordinary thing


STEVEN ESPADA DAWSON is from East Los Angeles and lives in Austin, Texas. He is the son of a Mexican immigrant and is a 2021 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellow. His recent poems appear in The Adroit Journal, Gulf Coast, Kenyon Review Online, Poetry, Split Lip, Waxwing, and the 2020 Best New Poets anthology.


bottom of page