Bedtime Stories of a Different Kind by Pris Campbell

Painting by french painter Edwige Dupont
Painting by french painter Edwige Dupont

Bedtime Stories of a Different Kind

Those memories that fly up in your face…
Like a swift punch in the gut.
Like the yelp of a hurt dog.
A chance glimpse of an aging photo
or a way a man glances at you
when you walk down the street.
That’s all it takes
and you’re spun back to that time again.
Grandfather’s hands on your body.
Grandfather’s threats if you tell.

You learn to rise from your body,
watch it fast-speed from the air.
If lucky, an angel stands by you
or another scared girl hiding, as well.
You learn to forget your grandfather’s hands.
That other thing, too, as ghosts you bad-dreamed during the night.

You don’t know why you cry in your sleep, twenty years later,
or why gray-haired men make you shake.
Then that certain photo appears, that glance–
and those pages he tore from your memories book
all come fluttering back.
This man who called you his baby slut.
This dream ghost come alive,
taking you by the hand and dragging you
into that special room,
ready again to tell you
those bedtime stories of a different kind.

img_2555The poems of Pris Campbell have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including PoetsArtists, Rusty Truck, Bicycle Review, Chiron Review, and Outlaw Poetry Network. The Small Press has published eight collections of her poetry and Clemson University Press a collaboration with Scott Owens. When The Wolves Come After You, with Michael Parker, from Goss Publications and Squalls on the Horizon, a book of tanka, from Nixes Mate and My Southern Childhood are her most recent small press books. A former Clinical Psychologist, sailor and bicyclist until sidelined by ME/CFS in 1990, she makes her home in the Greater West Palm Beach, Florida, with her husband.

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