Mental Contagion

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Featured Writer

John Colburn • Minneapolis, MN
Upcoming Event | Spout Press

About the Writer
John Colburn is originally from Mantorville, MN, and is an editor and co-publisher at "Spout Press." His poetry chapbook, "Kissing," was published by Fuori Editions in 2002 and an even smaller chapbook, "The Lawrence Welk Diaries" was published by WinteRed Press in 2006. His poems have appeared in such journals as Jubilat, Black Warrior Review, Spinning Jenny, Columbia Poetry Review, Forklift, OH. and Swerve.

It is better to sleep upstairs
in the world of dreams.
Almost shining in the sky.

My parents have never told me
one dream that they’ve had.
When daylight moves in, a settlement,
the dream travels by dog.
It is a dog in the shape of a dog.

In a dream my parents finally tell me
one dream they’ve had.
Then I sit up in bed and dream I
sit up in bed
telling my wife about a dream I had
with a dog in it.

My father yells up the stairs
I had a dream, I had a dream.

Then I look out the window
and see a space on the sidewalk
where a dog just was.
The dog that sleeps when I am awake
and wakes up running, when I fall asleep.

Later, in the shower,
I put my mouth to the nozzle
and I am a dog.
What if my parents
have never had one dream?

I sit up in bed
almost shining in the sky
and tell my wife about a dream.
Then downstairs in the shower
I am a dog, distracting myself
from the other thing I am becoming.

My dreamless father shouts up the stairs.
He can’t walk anymore,
he is in my dream.
He will have to travel by dog.

the college of liberal arts

Through a small hole in the white mind
we tunneled into college.            
The other place was a field of noise.
The other place was always behind us.
At night the empty campus made a sighing song
as we watched ourselves on television.
We learned that earth was once the bottom of the sea.
That enlightenment was carried
through time in the brains of birds.
Outside our rooms we found a darkness to navigate:
At the convenience store
we thought each mind was the universe.
We encountered a shelf.
The universe was the shape
of whatever we saw on the shelf:
Beef jerky universe. Pringle universe.
We knew that beneath our hunger
bodies flowed into solid earth.
That the universe was made
by having sex. We believed that when
trouble came a bell rang, then grew
into the blindness of adulthood.
Our rule: whoever got up to dance
would be saved. So we ate our
candy bars and felt satisfied.
We tried to destroy our brains by hearing
that same song again and again.
We patrolled the blank hallways as bodies and
saw each door as a portal into unvarying self.
A flickering light troubled the commons.
Now and then a dreamer called out from
a bunk bed, searching for the tunnel back home.

Upcoming Event
Spout Press celebrates its 5th anniversary with a fundraiser event.
Thursday, July 19, 2007 at Mario's Keller Bar

Spoutstock is the annual cover song contest/wild party we use to raise a little funds for Spout Press, a non-profit literary small press based in Northeast Minneapolis. You will once again have a chance to vote for your favorite rock stars to win the Audience Choice Award and its coveted trophy. We will have celebrity judges, surprise performances and an amazing beer selection down at Mario's Keller Bar. As always, cover charge will be minimal. This year, to celebrate the event's fifth anniversary, look for performances by Spoutstock All Stars from years past.

Mental Contagion
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