Three Bad Dreams

Kevin Denelsbeck

Three Bad Dreams

In your first bad dream you are the Seconde Mère,
The Premiere Mère was just burnt with reflection.
She’d joined the Eosians in their Dawn River Prayer,
When they angled roof-mirrors in her direction.
Now she is ash in rose monazite sand,
And that spells the end of your peaceful trade mission;
The dreadnoughts and dropships that back your command
Are ordered by you to a forward position.
You will teach the Eosians the frailness of heat
By eclipsing their sun with your Cuirassé fleet;
But you’ve badly misjudged this crude solar sect,
For their silt fuels a weapon you’d never expect.
They vaporize ships with pulsed cerium beams.
And so ends the first of your three bad dreams.

In your second bad dream you scramble for shelter
As the Gallídes fleet liquefies in a welter
Of hot alloy rain steaming down on your delta;
You heard the Mère shriek, and then suddenly felt a
Retargeted heat; now you are pelted
By promises in pieces. The Mère has just melted
On the beach where her Próxenos, you, said to meet.
She just wanted some sand. The deal was almost complete!
But not all on your planet were eager to trade
The holy soil lining the banks where they prayed.
The most devout rebels were run underground
Where a deadly old device was, unluckily, found.
You flee through the storm. But you can’t flee her screams.
And so ends the second of your three bad dreams.

In your third bad dream you’re the Shepherd of Light,
Tamer of Eos the Unruly Sunrise,
Guiding the rays of your libertine goddess
When cunning she-wolves tried to plunder her power!
You saw their foul alpha arrive in the night,
With virtuous curtsies but ravenous eyes,
Feigning her fawning, play-acting so modest,
Profaning the land she had hoped to devour!
You faced her with mirrors, until she burned bright,
And when her pack gathered to darken your skies,
Lo! The Glass Dragon wove light into hotness!
Breathed bolts that quickened their cloud to a shower!
But a new pack is forming. In gleaming drone teams.
And so dawns the final of your three bad dreams.


Eos – ancient Greek goddess of the dawn
Seconde Mère – French, “Second Mother”
Premiere Mère – French, “First Mother”
Cuirassé – French, “Dreadnought”
Gallídes – Greek, “Frenchwomen”
Próxenos – Greek, “Consul”, a local citizen representing a foreign culture

Kevin Denelsbeck is a software engineer originally from New Jersey but now living in Florida, with other East Coast stops along the way. He is currently feverishly working on two novels (one sf, the other fantasy) on his lunch hours but has dashed off poetry at odd moments since a young age. He is an unrepentant punster on Twitter (@NerdySeahorse) and a purveyor of tricky trivia questions on Facebook (

Editor’s notes: The rhyme sequence for these elaborate sonnet like verses, predominantly hendecasyllabic (11-syllable) lines are, for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd, respectively:




Concerning his technique, the author said, “I write naturally in a sprung rhythm with 4 variously-spaced accents, so I’ve found my syllabication can fluctuate sometimes but I always test by reading aloud. I’m a 19th C. fan of Gerard Manley Hopkins for the sprung rhythm and maybe an old declaimer like Vachel Lindsay for the thundering beats.”

He continued, “One of my texts in my college days in the ‘80s was Laurence Perrine’s “Sound and Sense” and it gave me an appreciation for trying to get the right sounds at the right times in a poem. A mentoring professor also presented me with Lewis Turco’s “A Book of Forms” and that gave me lots of practice with various metrical and accentual-syllabic structures, which is probably how you ended up with a triple-sonnet in your mailbox.”

It was difficult to illustrate these sonnets and focusing on the third, I considered including and abstract dragon facing off surreal wolves, or even using The She-Wolf (1943) by Jackson Pollack (, or Laurie Justus Pace’s work, an oil abstract of a six-pack of wolves, which carried a sense of the ominous, as stand-alone (, but ultimately the author suggested a piece from Deviant Art (violscraper) that works well, Eos, Goddess of the Dawn.

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