The Exodus of the Dreams

I’m tired; I blink in the drowsy air. But sleep won’t come. The longer I wait, the further afield it floats. I give a capitulatory sigh. The facts can no longer be ignored: sleep has made itself scarce. So I hulk on my newly strange bed, feeling expectant and bereft. Like a boat on the sand at low tide, or a wheezing beached whale, flapping my appendages with dwindling zeal. The world is reduced to a dim slit. Life makes itself small, occupying the cramped spaces beneath my eyelids with understandable reluctance. I am apprehensive; life gets mean when it has to tie itself in knots like this. So I try my best to entertain, to make up for the pinched quarters. If my mouth were a dreamcatcher, I declare with passable mirth, I’d grow fat on juicy neon slumbers. I say it out loud, hoping for a laugh. But hosting is a tough job. Life turns away, cringing, and there’s an uncomfortable pause. I can tell I’ve said something uncouth. My pillow snorts, breaking the silence. In a scornful voice, he rebukes me: even dreams have to give consent. You can’t just force them into it. Dreamcatchers are barbaric, he tells me. Life nods in agreement from its cranny in my iris. The pillow carries on: primitive, ghastly things, dreamcatchers – they should’ve been outlawed long ago. And a pillow would know; he’s seen what those things can do and let him tell you it is not pretty. Usually muffled and soft, my accuser’s voice is replete with the leaden sobriety of judgment. His tirade descends like a gavel and the air between us hums with its sonic afterimage. I’m embarrassed. I’ve never thought of it that way, I stammer. I should have known better. Don’t apologize to me, the pillow says. Apologize to them. In a flash of consternation, I realize the dreams have overheard us. They have borne witness to my blunder, and they are rightly offended. My face grows prickly and hot. It turns out they’ve been here all along, waiting politely in the corners of my eyes. Waiting for me to invite them in. But now they are marching away. Disgusted, they leave my sockets and ducts behind, returning to their outposts on the moon or melting into the darkness of local attics. They hide themselves there for storage, sometimes. For the moment, I’m too ashamed to ask them back. I blink in the acrid fog of their departure – disgrace is an effective irritant. My eyelids feel looser than before, my eyes somewhat drier. Far away, a man whistles in his sleep. It’s a sailor’s tune: the tide is coming in.

Hail

There was hail today

A riot of pearls

And with every pellet

I thought of you

 

How you broke mother’s necklace

That hazy spring day

And the pearls caught the light

As they tumbled through the void

Pocket planets in flight

From a dying star

 

There’s hail today

Cascading pearls

And the clatter

Sounds just like you

A Tortoise Prayer

Tinker, tortoise, chip away

The darkest night yields a bright new day

Let every fall peal truth like a bell

Let every wound spill psalms to sell

 

The shameful slip sounds pause like a gong

The silent scar sings a mending song

 

Spin, shrewd spider, layer threads

A life is a weave of words and webs

Sew them sturdy, stretch them tight

But leave your loom to rest at night

 

Knit strand by strand, with measured care

Then hang them to dry in the drowsy air

 

Patience, boundless, you are young

Old age will come, and wisdom won

Deep the roots and black the soil

Honor the sun with gentlest toil

 

Growing is slow and wishing is fast

The nuts and the bolts make spring wishes last

My Head is a Jungle

My head, my head is a jungle

Ancient and forever newly young

Snarled with vines and alien dreams

Drenched in the steam

Of a musky eternal summer

This is where I hide away

To steal my Eden slumbers

To lick my wilting fault lines

In the supple shade of a tree

I should never have touched

With friends I should never have met

 

My heart, my heart is a black box

Perched in some unnoticed angle

Of the mangled plane that’s hurtling

Toward those tangled trees below

Recording the prayers and the wails

Of passengers who will die in the crash

Or find themselves stranded

In this wilderness of words and pools

And glittering, slithering snakes

This burning bower of bliss

This strangest of utopias

tree

Mainstream

I want to plunge my hands into that main stream

Sink towards the bottom while it rushes past me

All those people and their slippery liquid dreams

The technicolor flood tugs hard at my seams

They may not know the special things you know

They may not pare down their souls with a knife

But all that wild neon raw, so sleazy ghastly loud

It makes me want to sing and tell them thank you