American Nightmare

Henry Crawford


[I couldn’t read] [this morning] [not this] [not that] [nothing] [pretended to read] [the newspaper] [words all around me] [I don’t recognize] [I remember] [they had a word] [for this]  [condition] [what does that word] [look like] [someone] [may try] [to test me] [hold up a card saying] [ILLITERATE] [they may ask] [what is this word] [how will I know] [what to say] [they have names] [for everything] [even the sun] [what if the card says] [SUN] [how will I know] [its not the moon] [if it is the moon] [I’ll say] [I knew all along] [of course] [I know] [what the moon] [looks like] [or was it the sun] [what if the bus driver] [has a card] [and wants to know] [where I’m going] [it could be] [a trick] [what] [STREET] [do you want] [the bus people] [will start laughing] [I’ll have to guess] [play along] [what if the policeman] [has a card] [is this your] [NAME] [sir] [of course I know] [who I am] [but what is this word] [they have] [for me] [the judge] [has a card] [it states my] [GUILT] [but what is this word] [if I say I’m not guilty] [and it says I am guilty] [then I would be guilty] [of lying] [until I woke up] [happy to be myself] [again] [I can read] [I know all my words] [wife downstairs] [at the breakfast table] [sunlight streaming] [down the staircase] [still] [in her nightgown] [staring at me] [holding up] [a card]

HENRY CRAWFORD’s work has appeared in several journals and online publications including Boulevard (finalist 2014 emerging poets contest), Copper Nickel, and Poets Reading the News. His first collection of poetry, American Software, was published in 2017 by CW Books. His second collection of poetry, The Binary Planet, was published by The Word Works in 2020. His poem The Fruits of Famine, won first prize in the 2019 World Food Poetry Competition. His poem Blackout was selected by the Southern Humanities Review as a finalist in the 2018 Jake Adam York Witness Poetry Contest. His poem Making an Auto Insurance Claim was selected as an honorable mention in Winning Writer’s 2019 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest. His multi-media work, Gettysburg Auto Tour, was selected as a finalist for the Deanna Tulley Multimedia Prize. His website is