The Executioner's Nightmare

i remember not remembering,

being caught up in it,

dreaming and not catching myself doing so


i remember once, dreaming that an executioner had a nightmare,

but when i stood in the shower that morning, trying to remember his story, i could only remember the fear


i remembered the execution-- crowds bustling together to witness some blood and circuses, the executioner parading about (he's a performer, just doing his job), the man in chains approaching the wooden frame, given up on fighting it anymore


afterwards, the crowd disappearing, pretending to have enjoyed it with some mixed-up sense of civic pride and primitive acquiescence to each other and the axe


but i want to tell you the story of the night before, if i can remember it:


once, i dreamt that an executioner had a nightmare,

in which he saw not his own head on the chopping block, not his own fearful face reflected in the glint of the axe--but instead saw no one at all. Not a surreal loss of humanity or individuality, either, a fuzzy blur of a head--instead he saw an axe falling and landing on no one, and then a whole field of people just standing around chopping nothing but blocks designed to be chopped, the block just doing its job, the executioners doing theirs--no one punished for not doing any chopping, just chopping at nothing chopping at never stopping, blocking out memories and dreams and accomplishing


or maybe the executioner said he dreamt of seeing no one, but actually saw Someone, a real person, not a block to be chopped with someone's neck in the way, but a pair of eyes that said to him "are you sure?"


or maybe he did see his own head, but he saw it and it looked just as guilty as the rest of them


see, this is how memory works and doesnt work, now i’ve got a whole rye field full of executioners running around chopping each other up in their dreams and it was supposed to be a metaphor and there was something about individuality and people not being individual, or maybe they were, but now i’m here and i just watched a head fall and it could have been you or me or anyone—----------


now that i’m stuck in it,

i've found that knowing my own life while it’s happening is the best way to be tripped up by it,

like a person forced to listen to their own voice recorded while they speak


but not remembering my dreams, my nightmares, my moments of unaware imagination or action, my crimes against time--this is just as bad as the executioner not paying attention to who's on the chopping block, to letting it be anyone, to forgetting to remember, to killing my old thoughts, my old selves


if dreams only come from forgetting to be awake, if life only comes from forgetting to watch for it,

how can i both dream and know my life?

how can i execute my will and save myself?

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