Dictators at Night

Winter, 2020–21 / No. 46
Abbreviated lions, on their sides long hours,
dreaming of a passing, rusty birdcage or
severe fathers and screaming schoolmates. 
Did Hitler sleep well in clean sheets, white 
as the Russian winter, pulled taut by anxious, 
loving maids long since scuttled away? 
On D-Day he slept till noon and Panzer tanks
that needed his personal orders sat still.
To live is to see a slowly assembling ghost
town of the mind: all you can’t have back.
Perhaps Hitler’s younger brother, dead
of measles morphed from resting boy to hill
as Hitler ran up, in his dreams, endlessly.
But what poor little damn fool can only
look outward, seek to reshape the landscape?
Maybe dictators dreamed of the dinosaurs near
enough to a sudden, key event: turning to look 
at a coming, eclipsing cloud of scalding steam 
and debris. Not understanding, but certainly, 
it’s the natural thing to do, to turn and look. 
In my dream I’m deep in a chair with a book 
and a tall man approaches with a gun. I say 
one word: wait. And he doesn’t. Good night.