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Long Poem Sleeping At The Bottom Of The Sea, Brian McGackin

I dreamed first of dryness

a lie I told to cover

the damp.

you don't know what dry is

the dream whispered.

you haven't been dry in ages of the deep.

you leap from the waves wishing to fly and the water never leaves your back.

your scales are heavy with the weight of every ocean swum.

if you dried you'd die.

My second dream was a joy

quickly forgotten.

In my third dream I relived

my waking nightmare but with

minor variations

a moth

a motorcycle

an otter

another ocean.

This dream blended to a new

one running through shallows with

always the deep at my heels.

It was the water that

whispered now beneath my feet

accusing me of crushing

sea stars and renaming

ancient mangroves and stealing

the homes of respected


I reached the shore but a vine

caught my neck and cursed my


I didn't know

I choked.

I didn't know.

I was sorry but didn't

say so.

I woke up gasping but it

was a fifth dream where I wrote

lies to cleanse myself without


I would not even permit

a bedside glass and my mouth

was ash so hot a crust of

teeth and tongue.

I became convinced of the

benefits of drowning.

There were many more dreams each

a new horror of the deep

alongside a comfort that

they were better than waking.

I died in one dream but a

squid-haired seraph forbade it

and sent me back.

But the living wouldn't

welcome me sank my rotting

bones as a witch until the

light couldn't reach them and the

dreams ended in blackness.

And I woke so slowly I

was never sure it ended

was still unsure as I rose

from the bottomest bottom

to my feet as I slowly

expelled the hidden air left

in my burning lungs eager

for the light I abandoned.

I am still unsure now still

still if the dream is over

or if I remain

sand-shrouded in my trench.


Brian McGackin is the author of BROETRY (Quirk Books, 2011) and IN CASE OF DEATH (Not a Cult, 2018). He has a BA from Emerson College and a Masters in Poetry from USC. He lives in Los Angeles, where enjoys Guinness, comic books, soccer, and classical music.

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