Nightmare Ghazal

Is this the morning, then, when you wake full of nightmare
to a song you don’t understand? Has there been another war,

the tide coming in full of cars and bodies, man-made, mere
fodder for the dollar mill, that needs its share of nightmare?

What brought these organs in its teeth? How many split hairs
led to the feudal lords opening, once more, their treasure—mare

with eyes on fire in the barn, train with no shame, no memoir.
You rehash events from the previous day, try to find nightmare’s

meaning inside morning, hands cupped around the only warmth,
calendar open to severed ties, surgeries, umbilical’s. Nightmare—

what comes with Hypnos, that state most resembling death. Nightmare
do you hear me when I ask you on whose behalf the dream-car

brought its pagan rites of sacrifice? Has revenge turned nightmare
human? If the dream-woman asks why, still she rides a nightmare.

*Originally published in The Ghazal Page.

Judith Skillman’s work has appeared in Shenandoah, Poetry, Zyzzyva, FIELD, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. Awards include an Eric Mathieu King Fund grant from the Academy of American Poets. Her collection Kafka’s Shadows is forthcoming from Deerbrook Editions in 2017. Skillman has done collaborative translations from French, Portuguese, and Macedonian. Visit

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