from Invent a dream where you appear as a poet. 

The bright chariot—not Apollo’s exactly—turns in the sky. It has a loose relationship to sensory detail, and the dreamer watches. The sky gets down into his mouth as wires and replaces his fillings with a feathery movement, not yet available as image. The dream’s catalog of nouns has not yet learned poetic ornithology. Only tactile embellishments survive the waking. The day rots the middle of memory. Charles Gabel pulls through the reeds for an acceptable pipe, but neither one has formed in the dream catalog. The dreamer calls to Charles Gabel, but the un-imaged dental replacement has replaced his voice with unvoice and the sky without clouds puckers with each attempt at breath. Not a chariot exactly.


The beautiful image. The ghostplain of plaster grass. The strong mammal in the road. The strong mammal in the road smashed by traffic in perfect symmetry. But the dream’s images fail except in the vaguest geography—sky over a broad earth. Sky pulls at the dreamer and the earth in several orbits. Sky molds a body, lifts the dreamer’s shape toward the shape of a storm, forming over the edge of sight. Charles Gabel cannot see the dreamer now. The reader cannot see Charles Gabel see the dreamer. Clouds rot to touch the open field and the dead lying there on the road in perfect symmetry. Rain plucks a lyre strung up from their stringy muscles.


There is a twisted deer. There is blood on the road. All these dead things in the road. Their antlers grow as weeds, hoping to touch the touchable sky. Hoping to touch it and be touched by another antler of another dead thing lying on another road. Charles Gabel kneels down to touch the twisted deer, as a cloud might reach down to touch the plain. The edge of another dream.

Someone tells Charles Gabel All these dead things in the road are not poems.

All these dead things in the road are not poems.


The highway folds and cracks under the influence of an indecisive gravity—influence from the millions of suns. Dead things lying on the road roll back and forth over the plain and acquire the mute field’s plaster dust in their fur. The dreamer moves from dead mammal to dead mammal to brush the dust from their fur—there are too many. But the dreamer continues to move from dead mammal to dead mammal. He brushes the dust from their fur, their bodies heavy on the dry earth.

Charles Gabel tells the dreamer All these dead things in the road are not poems.

Blood plumes from the dead things in the road. In perfect symmetry, the blood forms a moth against the dream’s plaster expanse. The million suns shine in the moth as a beautiful image and become familiar to themselves and to the dreamer. The dreamer’s blank cry of unvoice pulleys from him as if it were a bright moth tugging on the air to fly as a chariot might to pull one of the million dreamsuns. The dream blooms in perfect symmetry. For each dead thing in the road, there is another in another road. For each storm lulling on the edge, another storm lulls. Reach to touch Charles Gabel and he will reach back. For every dream there is another dream. This is the thought of another thought taking shape, returning to the dreamer’s mouth to break it, imaging false primacy.

Charles Gabel is a poet living in Cincinnati, Ohio. He earned an MFA in Poetry from Boise State University, and his recent work can also be found in New Delta Review, Alice Blue Review, and Timber. With the poet Erich Schweikher, Charles co-edits the Northside Review, and he works at the Cincinnati Public Library.