Friday, October 31, 2008

There was another part to my dream last night but now unfortunately too vaguely remembered. It was something to do with Catholicism, a counterpart to the Jewish thing in the dream that followed it.

Awake in the night for at least an hour, again, until about 3.45 a.m., wishing I cd get back to sleep, then dreaming I was in my previous house at the end of a party, talking with a young blonde woman, a woman I'd not met before, downstairs, as all the guests were departing. I was standing there naked wearing nothing but a big happy smile, then went upstairs to my bed in a space on the mezzanine that, in that house, has no door. The young woman, who was not Jewish, came upstairs and standing at the other end of the space, leaning against the wall, near the bathroom, started to give me an ill-informed lecture about how Judaism was such a sensible religion and how much she respected it. I was saying it's not like that. And I just wanted to go to sleep. Children, a dog, other people kept coming to disturb my attempts to settle down to sleep and all the while I was yelling at them and pushing some of them trying to get them to go away. I wanted to go to sleep. Worse, there was even a way in up some stairs on the right that I had never noticed before and some people were coming in that way. I woke up about 4.45 a.m. hoarse from all the yelling.
I was some sort of domestic in Flaubert's household, along with one other woman, and since Flaubert spent all day writing (standing up) outside in his garden, it was up to me to make sure he wore enough sunscreen. I felt very proud I was entrusted with this task.
One part of last night’s all night dreaming involved the dismantling of the bay bridge, specifically the span between treasure island and the city, which ‘they’ just sort of unhooked from the island and let hang down into the water. ‘They’ did this over the space of a weekend, and part of the deal was that people were ‘allowed’ to swim across the bay for this one weekend only. I looked down from the bridge (the span between oakland and treasure island was still hooked up) and saw Kevin Killian and Ron Palmer swimming and playing together like dolphins. Kevin was such a fast swimmer! I had to get in the water! I swam and swam but as I approached the city I could begin to feel parts of the bridge underfoot, metal and grating, and the other swimmers started to feel it too, and then there was a kind of water riot, we were all approaching/swimming to the shore too quickly and arriving at once and the bridge underwater freaking us out simultaneously. We were scrambling and pushing to get out, the people behind us were like a wave, we had to crawl out of the water quickly, our time was over, ‘they’ were going to let loose some crickets to swim in the bay next. Crickets were the next round of swimmers. These crickets were going to collect, during their swim, information in their bodies about what is wrong with the water.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I dreamt that I was in the white house library with Michelle Obama. With beautiful stained glass windows and antique towering bookshelves all around us (more library of congressesque but somehow more intimate). We sat at a small tea table reciting poetry. I spilt my tea all over the books we were looking at. She was like, don't worry, this library is stocked with left of the center poetics!
At a strange party where I knew no one, I felt responsible for an unhappy little girl who tried to slip out the door when someone came or went. Twice I caught her just in time. I knew it was dangerous for her to go out, because there had been an unusually high tide — I had just returned from the beach myself, and it was wet all the way to the cliffs. The sand was juicy, very difficult to walk on, and strewn with sea life.

I worried about making a mess on the short blue carpet with my shoes. But when I looked down I noticed the shoes weren't mine, and weren't even wet. They were someone's old black tennis shoes, which I thought I remembered seeing somewhere — in an entryway, or airing out on someone's front step.

The girl was about four years old and had short blond hair. She never spoke. To keep her entertained, I turned myself into a rocking chair and rocked back and forth on my back while she sat on my chest. Somehow, though, the rocking motion moved us across the room, and I bumped my head against the wall — and then, suddenly, I was alone on a city sidewalk, surrounded by tall buildings, standing outside a glass door next to an alley. In simple white lettering on the glass, it said "2-H." Through the glass I could see stairs.

Monday, October 27, 2008

With a key I was surprised to find I had, I unlocked a familiar door and let myself into a stale vestibule. Directly ahead of me was another door with glass in the upper half that was too smoky to see through. I unlocked it with the same key and found myself in another vestibule, faced with another door, which I also unlocked. Another vestibule. Two more doors, two more vestibules — but these were larger, and could almost pass as rooms. Wood floors. In the last vestibule, there was a cot to one side, neatly made with an old wool blanket. The window in the next door was covered by a shade. I peeled it away, only to find another shade, which I also peeled away, only to find another. Finally, I came to the glass itself and looked through it. The door led outside. I opened it and was met by an enormous black cat that was eager to get in. But when it looked up at me, it was afraid of me and it retreated. Then I heard voices behind me. When the cat heard them, it mustered its courage, dashed through the door, and disappeared. I closed the door.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Einstein & Nietzsche

I am rambling through Auckland with a poet whose work I have read and admire but whom I have never actually met. We are companionable and a bit excited as we leave behind the great white neo-classic monstrance of the Museum on the hill and go down through the Domain towards the city. I remember the way we used to walk when I was a student here in the 1970s and so we leave the path and head down that wide green slope between the trees towards Grafton Road. It’s much more overgrown than it was then and there’s a woman or perhaps two women going the same way as us—I call out a greeting to her and she replies, reminding us of how in those days you’d see through the trees flashes of the beaut long coloured dresses hippie girls wore. My new friend the poet is taking me out to dinner, or perhaps just taking me out … we arrive at a house that is somehow set over the campus but I can’t understand how this can be. We sit on built-in window seats before a built-in table, as if on a ship, and then I feel a wave of recognition go over me. I know this place. I get up from the table and walk towards the western end of the room to look out the windows towards the city. Yes! I’m elated. I go back to rejoin the poet and say: I have sat in this seat a thousand times before! It’s either a house I used to know on Constitution Hill or else it’s 56 Grafton Road where I lived twice in the 1972, once upstairs, once downstairs, with a gap in between. Or a combination of both houses. The poet has ordered food and I know it will be delicious. While we are waiting we meet two white cats in residence here, their names are Opus One and Opus Two. Then I see a book on the floor at my feet, with a plain cover upon which is written: Einstein & Nietzsche. What a brilliant idea for a book I think. I pick it up. It is tall and narrow but, as I open it, shrinks in my hands to the dimensions of a packet of yellow Zig Zag cigarette papers, the ones with a picture of a Zouave on the front. I’m completely unphased: this is brilliant marketing as well, to imagine a book designed in this way. And after all, I think, listening to the dry susurrus of onion skin paper rustling as I leaf through the book, Einstein and Nietzsche were contemporaries weren’t they? If only briefly. I wake up wishing I had that book on my bedside table. That the poet and I really had gone out to eat. And that I had a white cat called Opus One.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I dreamed that my husband died. I felt responsible.
Wanda Coleman at Harriet

Friday, October 17, 2008

I thought it very considerate when the melancholy friend of my father's uncle arrived with a tall narrow cardboard box full of fruit — especially since he had gone to the trouble of drawing a map on the box indicating the colors and degree of ripeness of the varieties inside. The box was about three feet by five feet, and less than a foot deep. I thought it should be placed flat on its back, but our friend said politely in an Armenian accent that it must remain upright.

Only then, because I could barely hear him, did I realize we were in a noisy mall. Glancing at the box again, I saw that his nice map had been reduced to a mish-mash of curved arrows with conspicuous black points — kind of an imploding diagram.

With some effort, I finally found us an empty place to sit. But at the last second, someone stepped in and removed the chairs. And so we crouched near a brick wall. Our friend fell silent. I felt responsible. We looked at each other for a long time, then he apologized and said he thought he should go. I said, "What a shame. We hardly ever see each other." Trying to be nice, he blamed it on the noise. "You're right," I said. "We shouldn't have to shout." Immediately the place became quiet. He relaxed, and much to my relief we began to talk in earnest. I stood up and raised a baton: of its own accord, it started following the sound of his voice.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

At the far end of a busy dining car, a friend I haven't seen for twenty years is holding a pint glass of beer, his arms resting atop the dark leather cushion of his seat as he takes pleasure in the activity around him. He doesn't see me. I start toward him, but am awakened by the movement of the train.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Dreamovie 67

The sky is big and blue, cloudless, and we are traveling under it and on the open ocean in an Airstream trailer. And we are not in the only one. There are others of us sailing as far from land as we can. A some pre-determined point, our trailer, which propel themselves forward without towing, dive into the water and settle on the floor of the ocean, all of the trailers daisychained together so that we can move between one trailer and another. The trailers are wide and spacious, consisting primarily of one great room that includes an open kitchen and living room. These rooms sit between two walls that are nothing but windows that look over the seafloor, which is very much like a rolling valley floor and bright with filtered sunlight. The one complaint in this little world is that the heat is not on in my trailer, so I decide we should leave the compound.

We return to dry land, where I soon find myself in a meeting in a basement room at work. Suzanne is talking about the loneliness of getting a PhD. For some reason, this is an issue at work, and I explain that I understand and am trying to figure out a solution to it.

From this point, we start to discuss the streets of Chicago, which is apparently the city we are in at the moment. Someone notes that there is one major street in Chicago that is more than two miles from any other major street. As that person speaks, I can see that street before and below me, but soon I am driving a car down that very street. I am driving with my friend Dess, who lives near Chicago and used to work there. We are sitting at light and I don't know which way to go. If I go straight, I will enter a highway; if I veer to the right, I will go under an overpass. I keep asking Dees which way to go, but he doesn't answer until the light changes to green. At that point, I go straight, but suddenly going straight also sends me under that overpass and I start searching for a parking space there, though I don't know the reason I am parking. The parking lot is crowded with cars, but I finally find a spot, right next to a gap in the parking spaces, a gap at the bottom of a giant wooden staircase. As I park, some people in a car coming towards the space from the opposite direction tell me they wanted that space. I lock the car, and Dees and I walk away.

Back at my house, my real house, I am preparing a check to mail off overseas, probably to pay for a publication of some kind, but I am not at all sure.

Out the window of my kitchen, I can see a woman who is living at the unsteady top of a tall tree. We could speak to her from the window, but we know we are supposed to climb up the tree to speak to her. A heavy man appears on a branch near her--a branch that could never hold his weight--and he walks gingerly across that branch to her. He seems to have stepped off another nearby tree onto that branch. He is trying to discover her secret. When it is clear she will not tell him, he leaps off the branch, towards a pine tree, wraps his arms around the pine tree, and begins to slide down the tree. I mention to Nancy that I would never do anything like that because he is now traveling too fast. Just before the man disappears from our view, three men dressed like Secret Service agents (wearing sunglasses and with earpieces in their ears) pursue him.

The mail arrives for the day, and there is already a response from that foreign country I had sent a note and check to only today. In the envelope is my note, my totally blank (even unsigned) check, a slip of advertising, and a thin self-addressed but unstamped airmail envelope I am supposed to use to return the completed check. I wonder how the mail can move so quickly over the surface of the earth.

One piece of mail is a large heavy package, which I open slowly, first turning up one corner of the box to see what is stored in that location. We can see the package is from someone we don't know but that it was somehow transferred through a real estate agent in Tennessee that we know my sister Kathy knows. I begin to remove the little items that are stored within the square holes the interior of the box is divided into (much like a liquor box): little white cups like sake cups, then a set of silverware with handles made out of two separate rods of metal bent into a U patter. We already have plenty of utensils and we don't need a partial set of them, so Nancy says we should donate the silverware to get it out of the house. I find within the box a poem that begins, "O, Ariadne." A Cretan in a crate?

A soldier dressed in fatigues appears in the kitchen and we know he is the sender of this package. He talks to us and then takes us out to his car which is a special tank designed for one person to live in. It includes a window to the outside, so it is not designed for combat. It is crowded with controls. As he talks to us about his home, a disembodied voice, maybe a recording, begins to explain the policies that govern what notes a soldier may retain after leaving service. We hear that they can keep most of their notes and journals, but not the journal they are required to keep, which is called My President, My Sweetie. This journal is supposed to include notes about facts about combat that could be important in developing responses to changes in a war or or about other military facts that could support improvements in national security. As I look at this notebook it seemes to be designed to hold long cigarettes in small tubular channels (designed like some pencil cases), so I wonder, just as the alarm rings, if he has to roll his notes into paper tubes and slip them into these channels.
I was sipping coffee from a styrofoam cup behind a car in someone's driveway when I heard voices singing Christmas music. Then several eager-looking high school kids, all with dark skin and wearing glasses with heavy black rims, started passing by on the sidewalk. The first few didn't notice me, but then one did, and she walked back to where I was standing and offered me a very weathered looking piece of chocolate from a small box that contained mostly empty wrappers. I thought she was trying to sell the candy. After feeling my pockets, I apologized, saying, "I'm sorry, I don't have any money. You should have asked me before Christmas." And she said, "Oh, you're right. We should have thought of that." Then she looked at me, and kept on looking at me, and her expression was one of profound sympathy. Soon I was surrounded by other members of her group, and they too were looking at me in the same way. Their gaze was so intense that I thought they must be from another world. Then, without warning, the scene suddenly shifted, and I was swimming in the air not far above a green grassy field. There were trees here and there, and a small empty ditch lined with concrete zigzagged through the landscape. I landed softly on my feet. I was met by a kid who used to live down the street from us. He said, "I used to be someone else."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Dreamovie 66

I am in a building that is situated on a little island of land within the confines of a traffic circle. Andy R has a number of books out within his living space there, and I notice two copies of a book. The book is a hardback, with a deep purple dustjacket, and it is my selected poems, but I've never seen it before. It was created without my knowing it by Bob Grumman and released a few years ago. I flip through the pages and recognize some of my poems, but one set within the book consists of handwritten visual poems with dramatical flourishes coming out of the tops of each character, and I know immediately that I never created any of those. I want Andy to give me one of his copies, but he doesn't offer to, so I leave. I plan to contact Bob Grumman about this.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I was reading Sebald before falling asleep so my dream was set near a train station, in an outdoor restaurant to the side and front of the station. I sat with a colleague who was pointing out the beautiful brick and ironwork on the building along the facade. Soon it was evening and all the waiters carried the tables individually over their heads down the stairs to a plaza below, where the evening meal would be served. The tables covered with white tablecloths bobbled above the heads of the waiters as they descended.

Once we sat down, my friend then pointed out to me the hillside landscape across the bay that was brown without almost any green. I repeated in response over and over that our city was supposed to be that way, brown and dry. There was no natural source of fresh water for the land. Somehow I felt vindicated in front of that view.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Dreamovie 64

I am dressing for a party that is somehow connected to a conference of archivists I am attending. I attend the party but forget everything else about it.


I drive out to a less populated part of town. Once I make it there, I review a contract for some archival work. After reading the contract, I need to check the prices of particular foods I ate at a diner nearby. Tim and I return there to check the prices. Standing by the cash register, we cannot get around a knot of people to see the posted menu, so we hop on the counter and scoot to the end, where we can see the menu on the wall. The man at the cash register complains about our doing this, and we apologize to the customers, noting that we didn't realize doing this would be a problem (which we did not since this was a dream). Once we review the menu, we leave by another door, the one that doesn't take us past the cash register. Once I return to where I was, I receive a note from my client explaining that my per diem has risen—which, essentially, negated my need to check the food prices.


Tim is flying something like a kite out by the sea. He holds a wooden handle that has an elastic cord tied to the middle of it. The cord works backwards than expected. Tim stands on the ground and I pull on the cord from high above him and the cord doesn't snap back to him. Instead, it rises into the air, and once it does the rubbery fingers at the end of the cord (the equivalent of the kite in kite-flying) float away. The first time he does this somehow by himself, and the kite flies hundreds of feet up in the air. We think it will float away, but it doesn't; it floats slowly back down to him.

Tim is still learning to drive and he is practicing by driving Nancy and me around, and he drives us into a city and even parallel parks the car. We then walk across a small park looking for a restaurant. The first one we find is in a public building. The restaurant's doors are open, but it is definitely closed. No-one is in the restaurant and there is no equipment in it at all: no tables or chairs, no ovens or stoves, no utensils, just the shell of a restaurant. We leave the building and notice that the entry we are leaving through is overgrown with weeds and otherwise in decrepit shape. I notice, however, that the structure of the entrance to this building is much like buildings at Boston University (though this is not literally true), and I tell this to Nancy and Tim.

On the way back to the car, we pass a building that looks something like a boathouse, though it is in the middle of the quad in this university. We enter the large double doors and see that there is an oarless and tholeless rowboat resting in the water. We realize that this boat is designed to take people on a short ride over an underground river, so we board the boat. Instantly, the boat begins to move slowly down the river, but suddenly a wall appears, with water flowing over it as in a waterfall. The boat somehow lurches up that wall of water, until it is standing at a 90-degree angle. We stabilize ourselves in the boat as it then tilts starboard and falls back into the underground river. Each of us is fine, since we held on tightly and the boat neither capsized nor took on much water.

Once the boat's rocking subsides, we debark and leave the boathouse. Immediately, I begin to write down what has happened to us, so I won't forget this. In my dream, I see only that particular experience as the dream, and that dream is the one I am trying not to forget. I remember nothing else that happens later in my dream.

Dreamovie 65

I enter a facility where the people inside cannot be trusted and are working against the goals of my compatriots. Inside, it is white, the color of evil in a futuristic movie, the color of unnaturally complete hygiene. Two friends and I move through the building, among the people, unimpeded. No-one seems to see us as outsiders. We assume we are safe. A companion and I have to climb into a small pod about five feet off the floor. This pod will transport us to our next destination. There is nothing to fear. We enter the while pod and latch the hatch behind us. We don't buckle ourselves in, and there appears to be no way to do that. We are not concerned. The pod begins to move, to shake, and it fills with a fine fog. We are jostled about, but not hurt. We are not worried, though we are a little concerned. As we travel, I realize that my friend is disappearing. I have left one friend behind and this one is now gone, disappeared into the mist. The pod stops moving.


I have received a piece of mailart from an artist I know, but he had delivered it to me by using a key I have given him to let himself into my house. Nancy is worried about this and talks to me about the problem with giving someone a key to our house. I talk to her with a device in my right ear as I'm climbing down the well to retrieve another copy of the key. The well is inside our house and quite wide, and I am climbing down carefully, holding onto rocks as I go. I am not worried about the key because the man gave it back, but I realize he could have made a copy of it. The well is so large and famous that it has a name. It is known as Proctor's well.

I do not know if I have retrieved the key, but I am now reviewing the piece of mailart the artist had left for me in my home. Part of the piece of art includes a little booklet that once included peel-away postage stamps. I carefully tear the covers off the booklet, so I can use them as postcards. The pages left within the booklet are thin and include little slices within them that allow people to peel the stamps off. I fold one of these pages into thirds and wonder if the page is too delicate to reuse as a postcard and mail.


A woman I know named M is visiting Nancy's and my house, which is a compound with multiple buildings and quite a bit of land. M is quite open with us about the fact that she is in the middle of an affair and waiting for her lover to meet her at our compound. We do not know why she has come her to meet this man, but (for some unknown reason) we try to help her. First, I open the door to our giant wooden gates so that the man will be able to see her, but I realize that this will hardly allow him much opportunity to see her. Next, I open our double gates, which are about twenty feet tall and forty feet across and made out of redwood.

As I begin to open these huge gates, I worry that our dachshunds might get loose. I go in search of them, so I can put them inside the house. I find them, but they run away into the fields. I get in a car and drive away to find the dogs. I find a dog with most of its body inside the earth, fighting to pull something out. For a second, I think it is a dachshund, but I see the dog is too large to be one.

I get out of the car to see what the dog is doing, and it has stuck its head not down a hold it dug into the earth but in a manhole. I cannot see what it is pulling. It suddenly jumps into the drainage system. I look down in the hole and I see nothing. Then the dog appears for a second with a tin can in its mouth. In another second, it disappears.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

After watching Time Bandits last night I dreamt 80 year old Katherine Helmond had an affair with my boyfriend, and I wasn't mad because she was so beautiful and weird.

Friday, October 3, 2008

I was alone in the country, waiting for a ride in the dirt and weeds beside a narrow road under a cloudy sky, when I was approached by two very intelligent looking boys in their early teens. Their hair was dark, and the eyes of the boy closest to me were unusually bright and large. After we had exchanged greetings, they told me how much they hated school. I asked them if they would be interested in reading books together instead of going to school. They both loved the idea. I said the books could be on any subject, and that we could talk about them or not talk about them — whatever they liked, whatever they felt like doing. And then, suddenly, music began to play — something wild and raucous, with shouted lyrics that I immediately recognized. It was Auden: From bad lands, where eggs are small and dear, / Climbing to worse by a stonier / Track, when all are spent, we hear it — the right song / For the wrong time of year. And although I knew it was Auden, I told the boys it was T.S. Eliot. They had both heard of Eliot, and were quite pleased. But I was not pleased, because I had given them the wrong name. And I thought, I wonder if they will want to read poetry?