Five Dollar Drive

A falafel sandwich.

A falafel sandwich.

Today I would like $25 to be a poet, but I won’t get it. In dreams I own or rent or hole up in large barricaded properties, e.g. tonight a Hell’s Angel under ambush in Bordentown, NJ. I circle a tree with daggers—what’s the Tarot card for that? When the ritual’s complete the tree will smithereen the heads of my haters, they’ve got me dead to rights but from up here they look like schoolteachers.

Or again I am a precocious witch in a private garden backyarded onto a spacious, elegant house. A sick unsightly mortgagess, I’ve kept the neighborhood kids from my property, batted their parents out of the house and cursed or murdered the ones who crossed me, and took the groceries they brought. Ripping someone else’s bagels dunked in cream cheese, lick, chew, spit. I suppose I have a reason for how I’m carrying on, though I never manage to swallow the bites I stole and laundered, maybe from roommates. Now I’m a rentier—is this paranoia, fear or fantasy? Property appears under my feet, collectors meticulous at the door. One dollar sign, says Cam. Two dollar signs! Yes, I say, pronouncing the glyphs like a cash register. I wake up to an unpaid ambulance bill for my shredded knee.

We move out to start fresh, somewhere on a gorgeous budget. Bored with Latin, my students revolt for lunch. In Princeton, NJ, $5 gets you an initially fulfilling sandwich at Mamoun’s Falafel, plus the guarantee you won’t run into your boss. The sandwich falls apart in transit, the hot sauce gives you the shits. I regret nothing, dripping inside and out. As toppings they offer: pickles, olives, radishes. All three? they ask. Oh yes, I say. All three.

Thanks, you’re right. I look forward to revising. I’ll revise with your comments in mind. In another dream a tank top figure in pistachio shorts presides over a sink of undone dishes, and decides they’ve seen worse. I wake up in the late afternoon first rested then seizing with the market’s anxiety, at quarter to four, can’t remember why so fretful but would dearly like to puke on someone—maybe a boss, who has sent comments on a chapter while I slept.

I begin revisions with a grievance. Did I mean grief? My breasts spill out in a waiting room where I am at pains to produce edits on a draft. I reproduce my nausea at market—I call it inventive.

KAY GABRIEL is a poet and essayist.