Volume 29, Number 1

On-the-Job Counseling

I’m not going to tell you again:
The only dreams that matter
Are the industrial ones.
Forget the gossamer imaginings
Of your clouded private experience.
They won’t hold up to field grade
Testing, match any good model of consumer
Demand. The dream
Has to be founded on a common theme,
Meet the shared history criteria,
Come out of the box ready
To be understood by a broad patch
Of the verb based public. Better
If it makes sense in several languages,
A variety of cultures. What you
Dream, made of personal cloth
And individualized ribbing, won’t get you
Solvent through tomorrow. After the play
Of the whole thing all you know
Is you in the context of you.
You have to do more,
Forget yourself and imagine a crowd
Sweating together in a dark memory-hulled room.
You can expect to make a living
Only if your dreams suit
A demographic large enough to market,
Rich enough to buy. Cruising
Your generic dream they can know
What each other knows, wake assured.
And you will be on to the next dream,
Sex and longing and stables and winning.
This is how you do better,
This is how you forget
Through your accomplishment that this
Is an hourly wage, that if you had sought
A more practical and prudent college degree,
Your then not-so-flat dreams might have made the shelves
Where the mark-up includes a commission.

—Ken Poyner