22 May 2007

Caution: Punctuation, Ahead?!

It's time to confess something.

I have a recurring nightmare about semicolons.

Inevitably, when I bring this up to a shrink, this raises at least one well-educated eyebrow, if not the matching set. I don't know why this is more disturbing to the psychological community than people who have dreams about raping their mother, or eating until they explode, or being naked at the grocery store.

In my dream, there is not just one semicolon, but a veritable phalanx of punctuation, sproinking towards me on their unstable ends, surrounding me and forcing me down a long, narrow hallway to confront a locked door. Beyond this locked door is a two-dimensional, sort of Edward Gorey-esque tableau in pen and ink, of letters. Broken, dead letters. Of the alphabet.

What horrifies me about this dream, and wakes me up in a sweat every time, is not that this dream is reminiscent of "Mystery!" It's that these unhinged pieces of silent type are, it is made clear to me by the glowering, menacing, faceless thousands of semicolons who have brought me here, are the lost souls of every failed poem I did not write.

A friend of mine was on location in Morocco this spring, and he seems to have found the secret lair of the semicolons. This must be where they lurk during the day, when they are not haunting my dreams.

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