The Real Rat

 

johnnygot-photo2
Johnny Got His Gun (Dalton Trumbo,1971)

 

Tell me if the rat is real,

for I can feel it’s feet

going pat-pat  across my skin.

Advance. Pat-pat. Retreat

 

Tell me if the rat is real,

for I can feel it creep

up and down this husk of mine

as I “rise” from “sleep.”

 

Sutherland, Sutherland

(cut-price christ)

I don’t need a platitude

or a change in attitude:

I want to know if, when I wake,

from this dreadful, dark mistake

will I feel truly free

from this vermin that  I can’t see?

 

The rat, the rat, it must be real,

for this can’t be a dream.

I’m awake. I’m asleep. I’m alive. I’m alive?

Things must be as they seem.

 


This poem was inspired by Dalton Trumbo’s 1971 film Johnny Got His Gun (which was based on Trumbo’s own novel.)

 

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