Sunday, September 28, 2008

Last night I dreamed that I was an undercover police officer (secret authority?) sitting very closely to Obama while we read from the same magazine. It was an open display of nuzzling in front of John McCain who was also in the room.

In September I dreamed that Chris and I were the running mates of McCain and Sarah Palin and on our way to Pittsburgh to campaign. Palin called my cell phone. I told her that we arrived and told voters that if we don't win, we're moving to Canada. Palin was silent and annoyed, she didn't get the joke. Then there's was a celebration. John Kerry selected a woman running mate and now he finally had a chance to win the election.

A couple days after that I dreamed I was in the car with John McCain and a bunch of other government types on our way to Iraq. We got into a car accident and the women changed into men and everyone argued needlessly, telling each other how important they were and oh were they gonna be sorry. All while I sat in the back seat and sulked.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

There are bodies lying face down in the river, black bodies face down the river, three, five, ten of them, some bobbing close to shore, others further from the edge almost as if someone has laid out a raft of black boulders across the surface of the river, stepping stones that I might glide across to get from one side to the other. But I am too terrified to move. I lean against the curved trunk of a river gum branch that throws itself across the water and try to hide even as I catch glimpses of the naked bodies floating down the river. Their long wavy hair and slender outlines suggest to me that they are women, young women, all of them I know somehow have been raped first then tossed aside to drown in the river.

This is my dream. I who live in the eastern states of Victoria and rarely if ever catch sight of a full-blown aboriginal, I dream of their massacre.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Plot Holes

One of my recurring dreams takes place in the church and churchyard of St Mary’s, Ross-on-Wye. The churchyard extends infinitely in all directions, or wraps around so that walking far enough in any direction will eventually bring you back to where you started. There is no visible exit. Let us call this the land of the dead; certainly there is no-one living in it, but gravestones and monuments as far as the eye can see. The church itself is sometimes visible and sometimes not. One can wander for hours and not find it, and then turn around and find it suddenly close at hand. Day and night are indistinguishable, the sky grey and immobile. Time is coming to an end.

There is a hidden system of tunnels below the churchyard, the entrances and exits to which are concealed beneath various monuments both inside and outside the church. Each entrance bears a name, the name on the monument that conceals it. To know the tunnel system is to know the names of the dead. There is a large statue inside the church, inscribed to a local notable although it is rumoured to be in the likeness of Charles I. The entrance below this statue is connected to every other entrance in the system, the very centre of the maze.

If there is a way out of the churchyard, out of the land of the dead and back into time, it is through the tunnel system. If one could only learn all the names of the dead, one might at last come out behind one’s own name. But the tombstones are worn down, the inscriptions illegible on all but a few. The system of names is decaying, and when the last name is effaced time will stop and the land of the dead will vanish completely away. There is no solution to the puzzle posed by the churchyard: it is incomplete, like a jigsaw missing half of its pieces.

Sometimes the dream does not end when I wake up. I open my eyes and I am still in the land of the dead, which has stretched out and enfolded the land of the living. Everything is connected under the surface. I travel to work, enter the tube at Euston, exit at Old Street. I sit at a computer, mapping entrances and exits, naming inputs and outputs. Time is coming to an end and when it stops the land of the living will vanish completely away, bringing you back to where you started. There is no visible exit, no solution.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Last night I dreamed I was staying at a house in the woods. It was a big, well-appointed house. It was night. In the first part of the dream, there were huge, weird hogs in the woods. Gigantic, feral, filthy hogs. If you tried to leave the house, it was clear they would attack you. Everything was moonlit and strange outside. Somehow I managed to get away in a stranger's car. I drove for a long time down country roads flanked by grass so tall--taller than the car--that you couldn't see beyond it. Finally I came to a crossroads. I was sure that one road led to a small town, Burkittsville, near where I grew up. I took that road.

Then the second part of the dream began. Somehow I was back inside the house. It was still night. One or two other people were with me. The house was still in the woods but it seemed to be located differently... now, when I looked out the big glass doors in the back, I could see a long sloping yard that ended at the edge of a lake. There was a dock on the lake and two figures were standing on it. They were wearing cloaks and had masks or makeup on. They had rifles and, when they saw us in the glass, shot at us. We hid and turned off the lights. There were more people outside--four, not two--and they were all cloaked and costumed as animals or trolls. There was something familiar about them--their posture, the way they moved. We had to stay away from the windows and the glass or they would shoot at us. They were keeping us prisoner in the house but not approaching the house. It was still night. The inside of the house was dark because we didn't want them to be able to see us. In the corner of the living room there was a big, dirty, drying plant. The figures came closer and closer to the house.

Then it seemed to be a different night. Some time had passed and something had happened and we were relieved, laughing. The figures weren't outside anymore. They had come to the house and we had placated them somehow, or driven them away. Now we were laughing and eating. Then one of the other people who was there went sort of mischievously over to the big, dirty plant in the corner. He grabbed it and started sort of peeling it, and what emerged from it was himself, but now painted to look like a blue troll, and very devilish. He was no longer there, and the troll-version of him ran outside laughing, down to the lake, and stood where the other figures had been and started watching the house.
A very large, very old house; stairs, garrets, passageways; crawlspaces; a spacious sitting room with the furniture covered; tasseled lampshades; no windows anywhere; a calm, almost casual feeling of certainty that I have been there before, and that I am helping a loved one, possibly my wife, find her way out. The sound of my own footsteps; at one point, proceeding on my hands and knees, the pleasant coolness of the hardwood floor against my palms.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Airplane Dreaming

On a recent return flight from Europe I dreamt about a fantastic flight as I slept in the last row between my husband and a window. Things began normally until the pilots instead of just greeting us from the cockpit, came out into the passenger cabin. They were wearing jeans and slick European style shiny t-shirts that an athlete might wear. Each also wore large silver necklaces. They were friendly and shook each passengers hand. They had gifts for us too-a variety of colorful plastic envelopes and binders for stationery and paper. They cut off the envelopes' elastic closures with balls at the end and later we found out the balls were pills for one of the pilots who was ill. From the plane's windows we began to see all kinds of amazing aircraft and flying things-I pointed them out to my husband. Soon he opened a window to let in some air, until we reminded him that we might lose cabin pressure with the window open like that. Then we flew for a long time right next to the Great Wall of China, so that we could see nothing but the wall. The wings of the plane extended over the wall without touching it. In the last part of the dream our flying ship became a cruise ship and some capsules from outer space landed on the deck. Everyone ran to touch the capsules to see if they were real. One of the space capsule resembled a very large bicyclist's helmet that was grey with open spaces revealing a complex interior space. Finally we ended up landing on a mountainside in Portugal where friends of ours were discussing how to get their vineyards going again after the winter. Then the pilots were waiving goodbye to everyone and the one who was sick collected the little balls with the elastics still attached. As we walked down the hill with the pilots they finally admitted to us that they had stolen the aircraft and it wasn't the first time they had done that.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Something about selecting between old and new versions (ie., of
memories, accents, etc.) with the older versions being proved to be
less reliable. "Versions" might correspond to many things-: when the
play button is hit, roll memory. Hindu right wing provocateurs on
email lists somehow mixed up with all of this. The dream had an
imagistic / narrative component that I've forgotten (I remembered on
waking but couldn't get to the notebook on time) but also this very
abstract component, recurring and applied to many narratives, if
that's possible.

The "selecting" between various versions may have looked like this:
----------------- ---------------
----------------- ---------------
----------------- ---------------


Rajnikanth lives in our house with us. There is a pre-story to this part that I can't remember. The house we are living is clearly the McAlpine Court duplex apartment, with its upstairs and downstairs that I liked so much. VHS tapes and that heavy black recorder / player we had are very much the order of the day. Rajni goes out of the house on a bicycle similar to what Appa, my father, has. When all are out I watch a particular Rajni movie, stopping at a sexy part for rewind, replay. (I can't remember for sure which movie or which scene but it might be the scene from Moondru Mugam where Silk Smitha tries to seduce him.) The doorbell rings and I jump to stop the VHS player, remove the tape. Rajni and Appa come in together on their bicycles. Amma, my mother, is nowhere to be seen.
"Madeleine", in this case, is apparently a cartoon about a tough, ass-kicking girl named Madeleine. I am to play her. Anyway, the details of the cartoon are not vivid. What I remember better is the frame story, where I head out for the TV station (rain already present here?) then get to the studio where I'm watching the cartoon on a screen. Later I negotiate labyrinthine corridors and rooms of the station, which is more like a cross between what you'd expect of a station and a bleak apartment block in 70s Chennai or maybe in Patparganj.

Eventually, I end up watching the taping of a show, in Tamil (after this most of the dream switches to Tamil), where a man is complaining about the state of newspapers today. He argues that-- a little known fact-- the problem with newspapers is that they depend on ad revenue and get paid by advertisers based on the amount of names (of people) they contain in each issue, with a special bonus for each new name. Thus, in an absurd and frantic bid for ad revenue, newspapers are constantly, artificially, trying to introduce new names into their front pages, often going to the extent of inventing them.

A little later in the dream, I am in another room, participating a show apparently broadcast from elsewhere (Malaysia?) that is in a mix of Tamil and English, and runs via videoconferencing. The topic again is the dismal state of newspapers today. I bring up the point I heard on the earlier show and the men on the screens nod impatiently-- this is something they have obviously already heard about.

Shortly afterwards, a thunderstorm hits, the rooms begin to leak water, and I have to make a run for it (the studio is oddly unpeopled by now). On my way I run into a couple of women janitors, who are dressed up in saris and not uniforms, tut-tutting and scrambling to mop what appears to be a wet laptop, a black Lenovo not unlike mine. It appears to have fallen and has a big cracked bump on top, on the other side of the screen. Horrified, I say, "Whose laptop is that?" (in Tamil) "I'm sorry sir, it's yours." Now in even truer horror, I pick up the laptop and open it, with the other two looking sympathetically on. I switch it on and what appears on the screen is some kind of last-ditch recovery program starting up.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Very early this morning, I awoke with the distinct image of a poem in my mind. The poem had short lines, was divided into four verses, and the verses themselves were separated by a one-point rule that was as long as the line of type above it. The first verse contained one line of three words; the second verse contained two lines identical to each other in length and of five or six words; the third verse contained two lines also identical to each other in length, but a word or two shorter than the lines in the preceding verse; the last verse contained one line of two short words, making it the shortest line in the poem.

For what felt like a few seconds, I knew exactly what the words were and what the poem meant. And I thought to myself — or maybe I was still dreaming — "As soon as I'm up, I'm going to write this down."

And then, just as quickly, the words became meaningless blocks of type, and I could see nothing but the form.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

An old scraggly hobo asked for water. But my wife and I had no water, because we were in the process of clearing out the kitchen. The cabinets were empty, the faucet was missing. "That's okay," he said. "I'll get some ice." And he took a wide-mouthed quart canning jar from the counter under the window near the sink and left the room. I felt bad that we didn't have ice. I knew we had metal trays for ice cubes. I could see them in my mind, sitting shiny and empty in the empty freezer compartment in the top part of the refrigerator. They were the same metal trays we had when I was a kid, with metal dividers and handles to crack and free the ice cubes. . . . And then I pictured myself dropping ice cubes into a drink glass, and remembered the cheerful, sociable sound of the ice landing in the glass, the sound that meant we had company. . . . Now I was thirsty, and the hobo's ice jar was back in its place beside the sink. It was wet, sitting in a little icy puddle. I picked it up and held it to my mouth, wondering where on earth he had found ice. . . . Across the room, my wife had turned into a misty painting. I thought, "Has someone put us in a picture? Is this the artist's idea of fun, turning us into paper?" And the paper was a sturdy, laid stock, yellowed with age. . . .

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Green Tree Hill.

We are standing at the edge of a clearing, a small group, my children, and my siblings. We have caught the train to Cheltenham station and we leave the platform on the cemetery side. It is the cemetery side of the station that I am looking at but it seems very different somehow, more as if we have arrived in the country. The man is foreign. Puffy face, dark eyes. He holds the baby in his arms underneath a coarsely woven blanket. I know it’s a baby because I can hear it crying. The man looks as though he feels trapped, standing there on the edge of the clearing as if he had had some intention before we came along but now that intention has changed. We have stopped him in his tracks. He hesitates and just as I am about to offer to hold the baby for him, he throws it down onto the ground beside him and bolts. He is gone almost before we register the thud of the baby’s head on the ground and I am horrified at how close I have come to being able to save this baby. Why couldn’t he have put the baby down, not thrown it down so heavily. The thud of the head on the ground and then it rolls out of the blanket. The baby’s head has been severed and rolls over with no body attached. Its eyes are open, brown berry eyes as deep in colour as a pool of blood, wild staring eyes. I can only register the severed neck and cannot bear it any longer. I wake up.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Obama dream

Obama was in my dream. There were a lot of people staying in a big room somewhere, like a country house, woody, with high ceilings, but I think it was actually "my house." At one point, everyone was sort of sleeping (think of the scene in the Superdome after Katrina), and Gary and I were on the floor in something like a Japanese futon, and my ass was exposed. I didn't think this was unusual but Gary kind of let me know it was inappropriate. So in another "scene" I was hanging out with Obama and he said, "let's find a way you can make some money with that big old computer of yours so you don't have to work so much." He was very friendly and avuncular (which is weird considering he's only two years older than me) and really seemed like he wanted to help me out!
A bone-white demitasse delicately painted, full to the brim with steaming, thick-foamed coffee; and then, the gentle voice of an elderly woman,urging me to wake up and remember.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I had no phone, I had no computer, I had no TV, and yet for the second time, it was necessary for someone from the cable company to come out and restore my service. I explained to the employee that the first time, her co-worker had to crawl into a closet in order to make the repairs. I remembered how difficult that had been, how dark and deep the closet, and how strange it seemed that there was a metal box in there full of wires. Without saying a word, she headed straight for the closet and crawled in. I never saw her again. When I turned around, I saw a cell phone on a small folding table, picked it up, and listened. It was someone from the cable company saying the repairs had been made, and that I should notify them of any trouble. Before I could tell him about the missing employee, the connection went dead. I looked at the closet, but now the door was closed. I decided to leave. On my way out I saw a dark-haired woman on a cot, in some kind of distress. I had no idea who she was. I laid my hand on her face, she looked up at me briefly without recognition, and I continued on. I came to a very large stainless steel door that was closing like an elevator door, sliding from right to left. Beyond it was a large mostly empty warehouse with two or three men moving about, wearing hard hats, shouting, their voices echoing. I pushed the door back a couple of feet but wasn't strong enough to hold it open, so I let it go. I went into an adjacent warehouse instead, down some wide concrete steps of very irregular depth, only twice touching them with my feet. I knew I was being watched, and that I was considered odd for not using the steps in the usual way, but I was too pleased to care. High above, on what I thought must be the eastern wall, light shone in through a dirty window.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A million different colored lights are dancing in the indigo sky above me. Swirling strobes of color surround me as loneliness settles in my mind. I'm tired, scared, and just want to lay down on the cool grass below me but it is wet and I can't stain the white dress they put on my. I'm so cold but I have no jacket. The one I owned wasn't going to match the purity of my gown.

I drift through mist and come upon a tree, whose leaves had fallen leaving it bare and naked. I place my hand on its cold bark. I'm tired. I settle my forehead on the rough tree and sleep.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

My ex-wife came in and gave me a big hug. She was smartly dressed for her wedding yesterday, wearing a mink coat, white dress, pearl earrings and exceptionally careful make-up. Although she seemed happy, she was actually angry about something. Was it because I congratulated her on her marriage?
I must have slept for 13 hours last night with all sorts of strange dreams about the library computers crashing at peak times (yesterday was a little stressful and draining), weird camping scenarios involving being captured by cannibals, and a strangely erotic dream involving a male poet/blogger/editor I once met at AWP and probably have only talked to one time. But I think I'll go to my grave without saying who...;)
I was on holiday in a Victorian mansion with ocean views from every window. I had to go to the bathroom, & I wandered away from a gathering of people drinking & laughing in a well-lit room to darker hallways. Wallpaper was peeling in the endless cabbage-smelling hallways. I came upon Steve, looking into an aquarium. Well, not really an aquarium, but more of

a wall cutaway & replaced with glass

"This was my nursery" he sd, & inside the now waterfilled room was a small cradle, a changing table, a chest for toys. Two maids were in the display, one seemed to be dusting, the other painting green fireplace bricks white. They moved in aquatic slow motion.

I found the bathroom, but instead of a toilet I peed into a small glass container. It had a chrome lid that lifted with a small leaver. The inside glass had markings, so you could measure liquids. While I was urinating a trapdoor opened beneath me.

I was expecting it

& stepped aside, continuing my pee into the open floor, which turned out to be another tank of blue aquarium water. There were hundreds of eels swimming about & a massive shark swam a the top of the tank. I finished, & .
In an unfamiliar room, I come upon a slide show of old family photos, some in color that shouldn't be, progressing slowly on a large TV screen. And then a blank space, voice only: my father's poet-painter uncle, singing — something I never heard when he was alive.
I'm reading over a prose poem I just finished. It's really wow. I have the perfect title: Seinoira. I print out the poem. The bold, one-word title looks especially beautiful over the block of justified text. But I think it should be "Sayonara." I Google it to make sure. I cross out the title and write in two words. My handwriting is illegible as usual. I correct the spelling in the body of the poem as well. I wake up and I'm awake for real so I head downstairs, power up my Mac, sit down in my squeaky chair. I have a three-line poem called "Sayonara." I hold it in my hands. The first and third lines are longer than the second. It's like an embrace. It might be something. It might be wow. I feel competent as a child screaming out for Mommy wakes me up for real.