Saturday, February 28, 2009

I'm living in France; I'm in the first stages of an affair with an alluring but down-to-earth mademoiselle. She tells me that she has just sent a letter that spoke of me to an old high school teacher with whom she has maintained a friendship. The letter said various things that made me sound like a fun & charming person--one is that I have a twelve-year-old's enthusiasm for roller-skating. Jokingly I ask, "did you suggest that I am inclined to lend money to high school teachers?"

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I’m keeping a notebook on the bed beside me. I dream about it and it is the pressure I need to jot down my dreams. What actually happens is that each time I think I’m waking up, I review my dream to that point, over and over again. It begins with a group of us are going to Santorini for vacation. When we arrive I have to fill in the names and addresses of at least 2 couples in the party who have not yet arrived. My address book is not up to date so I make up the contact information of the other two couples.

Then we are taken to our room that is so large that we end up sharing it with another couple. We discover that we have a big-window view of a landscape that looks like the Grand Canyon, but not like the island of Santorini. I notice that the bedspread is beige with small red flowers on it. Soon we go outside to get in line for dinner in a restaurant. Dinner on an island is always in an outdoor restaurant. A woman beside me tells the story of a restaurant mascot that is a cross between a vinyl figurine and a rabbit. I can see the mascot myself. This mascot has recently had a back operation and is now healthy. Other people in the line don’t like the woman who is telling the mascot story and so most of them move away from her. I stay and listen to her story and don’t think she is crazy. We never get to eat dinner anyway.

Then there is something like a parade in the streets and so we stand against a chain link fence to watch, It is not clear who is on the inside and who is on the outside of the fence. Soon a young man waltzes up to the fence wearing a long flowing black coat. The fabric is silky and quilted. He also wears a hat and has a small white flower in his lapel. In my dream I am continuously reviewing my dream so that I end up sleeping through the whole night without waking once. This is the first time that reviewing a dream has kept me asleep.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It’s spring, and a stranger and I are hoeing weeds around the vine stumps in the last row of the vineyard near the road that runs past my childhood home. As we move along, the soil rises up and threatens to engulf the vines, which are still bare despite the time of year. Our job becomes more and more strenuous; finally, instead of dirt and weeds, we’re hacking away at snow, then solid ice. It’s hard work, but I’m having fair success. I’m less bothered by the strangeness of the situation than I am by the fact that I don’t know who the stranger is.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dreamovie 83

Someone is bringing me turtles for a biological experiment. He leaves them in a mud puddle by the side of the road, and they disappear into the mud. When I am ready to use them, I pull the turtles out of the mud, but I decide to dig more deeply into the mud, and I find other turtles there, turtles that have been living there. I find the turtles by feel and then I pull them up out of the mud. As I pull them, the suction of the mud pulls their shells apart, so that the top shell I'm holding onto disengages with the bottom shell, but this does not harm the turtles. I am amazed by how many turtles I'm finding, some of them down so far that the mud is more like solid earth.

As I work on this project, a Latino artist comes up to me and watches me work. I do not know if he talks to me, but I decide that we can use these turtles in an art project where we paint the bottoms of the turtles with wild designs. For a second, my mind goes to a study of painting turtles undershells which proved that the beasts are not harmed by this. The artist seems to think I am racist, so I explain to him that I have a beautiful Asian wife. (The artist has suddenly become Asian.) For a second, my mind goes to my Asian wife, who is standing by the island in our darkened kitchen. I wonder who this wife of mine is, since Nancy isn't Asian and we do not have an island in our kitchen.

I take the turtles to a building where we will work with them, but once I get there I find myself in charge of a project to print and assemble a literary publication. The book has one sheet that is longer that the rest, and the photocopier cannot collate that page with the rest of the pages, so I have to take each copy of that sheet and insert it near the front of the publication. Then I have to sew each page into the publication by hand.

I move the copies of the publication into a nearby room, where a number of women and children are sitting in a circle, but I keep moving back and forth between the two rooms, never quite able to bring everything I need to complete the project into the next room. My old friend Ruth is one of the people in the circle, and she is there with her two girls, who appear not to have aged at all in the past twenty years.

The women and children sit in a circle, but in clusters of women with their own children. As I move back and forth, Kathleen and Ray talk to me about the project, which is a poetry project in my mind, but an archives project in theirs.

An old forgetful LBJ is speaking in a narrow hallway filled with lights and reporters. On a table nearby is a plastic water pitcher and several plastic glasses. I pour myself some water. LBJ looks at me and his speech drifts onto the subject of baseball. I know he should be addressing the reporters, not me. He becomes lost in thought. I offer him my water. He thanks me, says no, and apologizes for being old. Just then, a friend of mine, who turns out to be one of the reporters, tells me that the two of us have to take a bus to another story. After a very short bus ride, we get off at an old rundown lot. My father is there, standing next to a wooden framework of some kind. I have no idea what it's for, and he's too discouraged to tell me. It's quite a bit taller than we are. "Maybe it's for a new swing set," I think.
Dreamovie 82

Nancy and I are stopped at the top of a large mountain beside a highway that plummets alongside a gigantic cliff that is part of this mountain. I am amazed at what we can see from this vantage point and how much better it is than one we have just had, a vantage point already mostly forgotten. We can see most of New York State from this point on the mountain, a point either on the northern edge of the state or just beyond it. The highway descends towards Buffalo where it turns left and east, and I can see the highway, which must be the New York State Thruway, continuing until it meets an accumulation of buildings in the middle of the state, which must be Syracuse.

We descend the mountain and stop in Buffalo, where we attend a party of our friends Jim and Patti. It is the summertime, and their party is on Lake Erie, primarily on a large boat.

Nancy and I are now naked in a four-poster bed in a large white house by Lake Erie and she is telling me what kind of sex she prefers. My copy of the magazine P-Queue is sitting on a dresser atop my small brown stationery box beside a jar of Vaseline. I tell Nancy that I am worried about the Vaseline getting on the book.

We are outside on the deck of the boat talking to Jim, and Patti is coming over to talk to us. We discuss why their daughter Katie is not present.

Nancy and I are back in the white house. We are on the wide landing on the second floor, which is decorated with furniture including a chest of drawers upon which sits my copy of Queue. The area is filled with a number of older women who seem to be in charge of both the party and the house. Someone has moved our stuff, so that there is Vaseline globbed on my stationery box and my book. I'm upset and try to wipe it off of the book. There is not much Vaseline on the book, so I am not that worried (and I then realize this is a dream and that my book is probably untouched).

Nancy and I head out east across the state back home, but we are walking, not driving. When we get to Syracuse, which is only one hundred yards or so from the boat, we have to go straight through the city. And the city is now just a single small house. We enter the house through the wide front door, and we arrive just as the fireplace is being set in place so that we cannot go through the rest of the house. This happens, we learn, every day at noon. Once the wall in front of us closes and the fireplace appears, a group of state workers, including our quiet friend Robert, put together a small teatime and dance simple monochromatic dances to chamber music. We try to find another way through the house so that we can continue across the state, but there is no way through the house and no way around the house. We return to the room and talk to Robert as the dancing continues—until the fireplace opens and we can continue on our trip.

We finally arrive at home, back at our end of the state, where we are with a group of people all of whom have special handheld electronic devices. It is unclear what these devices do, but some nefarious people know how these will work against them so they attack us and steal the devices from us.

Many of us are captured during this attack, but I am one of those left behind. I am now second in charge at the FBI, and I am trying to figure out how to make the devices to work again. Somehow, this will foil the plans of those who stole the devices. I am working on this project beside a severe blonde woman who occasionally provides some help.

I go to speak to the first in charge, but everyone around him is speaking in Spanish, and my Spanish isn't good enough to allow me to join the conversation. I hold one of the devices beside the head of the first in charge to arouse his attention and to tell him something I have discovered. But I pull my hand away, because I have just realized that I don't recognize which one he is anymore.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I am a child, and I am alone inside this magnificent church. I know this church, this is where we held the Mass for my friend Tommy. I am kneeling in a pew off to the right side of the altar. A huge white column is situated between myself and the altar, obstructing my line of vision. A priest approaches the altar but he has disappeared behind the column, and although I can hear him speaking, I cannot hear the words to his prayer. I do not think he knows that I am there and I have the sense that I am spying on him. I am moving my jaw up and down, and as I do, my teeth are falling out of my mouth, one by one, into my hand which I hold beneath my chin to catch them. When my teeth are all out, I begin speaking: The light! As though it has passed through the tears of Christ, the tears which upon touching the earth are prismatic crystals. The light! As though it has passed through the blood of Christ, the blood which upon touching the earth is hyacinthine gems. The light! As though it has passed through the eyes of Christ, the eyes which upon touching the earth are gold dodecahedrons. The light! As though it has passed through the body of Christ, the body which upon touching the earth is pearl.

Dreamovie 81

AM has to move her office to be closer to her staff, which I understand, so we move her office to one of two offices between Julie and John K's (but in reality there are no offices between those two offices). Because AM is moving her office, I must move mine as well, though I have no idea why. We inspect our new offices, and I notice that there is a door between the two rooms, though I don't want one there. Her office has no door on the hallway, however. Instead there is evidence that the door that used to be there was a sliding door. I am annoyed that I have to leave my corner office for this office, and then I realize that these offices actually move AM away from her staff, I don't have to move my office, and this is only a dream.

A number of us are walking through the woods with canoes. I ask our leader if we are supposed to canoe downriver, even though I know we are standing beside a small lake. He says we are, so I head off with a few other people. We pull out canoes out of the water beside a parking lot and walk to the back of the lot, where we find an old cinderblock garage. I walk into the garage and it is dirty and moldy inside, cold, and I can see the snow speckling the ground outside. As I turn to leave the garage, I see that my entrance into the garage was through a small square hole in the wall and that I have to get on my hands and knees to exit the building. I did not remember having to do this to enter the building.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dream One
The dream began with my husband wanting to pull the car in the driveway. He couldn’t because our neighbor to the right had his truck in our driveway and his leg in a kind of scaffolding apparatus that held his bones in place with pins and wires. When the neighbor saw us pull up, he rushed towards the truck, picking up blue plastic boxes that were full of vegetables. He stacked the boxes in the front seat of his vehicle that had no door. Of course they fell out all over the driveway and grass, so we pulled the car further up the street and parked there.

The house was full of young people who were under the influence of a local street vendor. When I realized that he knew nothing that would be of help to them, I hustled him out and although he plead his case, I didn’t believe him. He took his ice cream cart and left as I watched through the window. The window were trimmed with aluminum and swung out on a hinge.

One of the young men, a friend of my son’s showed me his delicate palms. They were decorated in henna patterns. One of his hands had a red eye in the middle of one finger. His hands appeared to be partially erased. He held them up for a long time and they seemed to be disintegrating as I stared at them. He was wearing a blue pin striped suit and I knew he was thinking of me as “mother.” Later, there seemed to be some confusion about who would do what in the young people’s business.

Dream Two
A friend and I were both in the hospital at the same time having babies. Hers baby was almost normal weight, but mine was a tiny, tiny male person, like a mite. He was so tiny that he slipped through a small hole in the top of the cradleboard where I swaddled him in blankets. I got down on my hands and knees to search for him and there I found many insects and creatures with beautiful feathery bodies and legs moving over the carpet, but I couldn’t find him because he was as small as a mite.

Monday, February 16, 2009

cramped space of kitchen after party dishes piled for washing by the sink getting late I want to get the washing-up done when some young round faced curly dark-haired boy holds forth seriously about the group playing a familiar song – is that Talking Heads singing a ballad that we know from someone’s album – Mary something – you know his daughter can’t remember his name …”I need to see you again” – tall thin girl gets up deciding to play my digital piano that is right by the sink – she wants to move the three empty bottles but I say they don’t go out until Monday, that they stay there until then – where, she asks, is the on-button

[missing names: Nora Jones, Ravi Shankar]

This was a dream of the future. Everyone had become much more hip hop in their dress and manner. My younger brother in particular now sported excessively baggy clothes that were bright powder blue, and had a visor to match. His girlfriend too wore a similar outfit. I met them in the kitchen of his third house, a house that was all granite countertops, yellow 70s-esque furniture decor and particle board. They announced their engagement after four months of dating, while friends covered them with gold chains.

There were many apartments in a row connected to each other by a series of regular passageways and banana-colored carpet. In some of these rooms people - still hip-hop people- were having sex. Outside there was danger. Roving gangs with automatic weapons would shoot up apartments on both sides of the street, including the ones my brother and his fiance were sleeping in, except that they weren't sleeping but playing some kind of yahtzee when the shooting started. No one was killed, but everything was full of bulletholes that leaked motor oil. One of my brother's friends informed me that all the sex was happening because 'people wanted to be sure some babies would survive the shootings.'

I recall walking around in something like a trucker's hat - I was non hip hop and poor but everybody treated me respectfully. On the tv there was a show on the president, and the president was this strange silvery-haired dude with a white lion by his side, and he read an address to the nation that was straight out of Temporary Autonomous Zone by Hakim Bey. A reporter on the scene, who somehow came into the room with us while he was talking on tv, told us that the president ran the country according to the Temporary Autonomous Zone, and since nobody read in the country any more, no one cared.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I had no AWP dreams while I was at AWP. I dreamed of an ocean, a loud television, an intervention, a little girl eating dirt and plants, recycling, finding a map, a school bus, an airplane, a spilled glass of wine and finding my gray bra and underwear in the kitchen of my childhood home.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

& the story of the Lacedaemonian man and woman: she was set starkly in the tall grass with her shoulders squared aiming the rifle two miles up the hill at the stranger wandering into her land. Why is this the story that preludes the hospital? The land was the same: it's rolling hills of wheat and dense cliques of lush oaks in an amber sun of dusk. But why is she sick? My older friend (was it my father?) was trimming dust jackets, and we agreed that smoking cigarettes was the best while maintenancing a book collection. "Why did you just sit and not come over?" She'd asked. All the patients had giant cribs decorated like an inmate decorates his cell, the light was dim, the sceptic cardboard pungence of the hospital corridor was a haunted architecture striped yellow across blue walls, no private rooms, just the floor and sickness, debilitating injuries screaming echoes in the lamplight. I was terrified by all of it, and too distracted to have even seen Her, the only Love who'd left me years ago, sitting beside her own crib and eyeing my terror of the sickness she'd come into. But She'd been cured of it, whatever it was, and we were there to bring her home. Sydney must have been as distant a dream to her as it was to me, and she gives me a tour of the place, showing it in a new light. She loves it here and wants to show me why. Suddenly the place is bustling -- there are cyclists with angular physiques carrying their bikes up stairways, there's loud music thumping from certain doors, and she leads me into a great hall, as large as a high school gymnasium, lighted only by the cloudy windows drawing silver and shadowy daylight, and floored with waterproof wrestling mats. Above, they've turned on the sprinkler system and let it run continuously. The patients, twenty-five of them or so, run in the showers and slip on the mats, tossing footballs and asking us to join them, which we do and run in the shower and push each other over on the mats until we decide that its time to go, we've come to bring her home after all. & in the car with her father there was a dreadful listlessness, he had Black Flag playing on the radio and decided McDonalds would be a good choice, pulling into the parking spot. I said to her: I want things to go back to the way they were. & she said, No one's deepening anymore, we don't deepen on one another anymore. & I asked if that was all there was too it? 'You know as well as I do,' she said, eating a french fry, 'Neither of us really loved the other, we merely loved the affect the other aroused within us. It wasn't each other, it was ourselves we loved.' What was it that I wanted? I wanted her to say that I loved lamp, for her to laugh from the chest with her lips clenching an audible smile pointing a finger at me from beneath her chin, and for her to say the Lacedaemonian woman wasn't there as a prelude, but a prolepsis of an epilogue that would never be read.

Dreamovie 80

I am attending a Muslim funeral. I drive up to the mosque, which is nothing more than a large house on a small hill. As I walk towards it, it opens up and the ground before me fills with chairs, folding chairs, but elegant. People are seated in those chairs. I sit down for a second but almost as soon as I do I rise to go up to the front. I am just ahead of my father. I'm feeling bad because I know the dead man but not well. I am not sure I'm acting as I should since I've never been to such a funeral service. As I walk up to the man lying out on a table in a shallow casket, I have to pass by and talk to a few women who are standing in a group just before where he lies. Afterwards, my father and I walk to the back of the house, where cars are sitting in the snowy mud

I go to work, where many of us are sitting at tables working on developing displays for some event. As I arrive at the table where Denis is working on a display, the commissioner of my agency also arrives. Denis begins to read something to the commissioner, but it soon becomes clear that what he is reading is a song. I mention that, trying to diffuse a situation, and the commissioner agrees with me. For some reason, it seems to me that Denis is being almost impolite, but not exactly. He is being simply a little undeft in his manner around the commissioner. By this point, I am sitting down at the table with Denis, a display board standing up between us. We leave that area, walk down the hall, making a right hand turn where the hallway ends. I have picked up a nice cubic foot box, and I'm trying to remove the many telephone books and squished balls of tissue paper that are filling it. I have to place these in a large rolling gondola for recycling, but I first have to stuff the material into other weird sized boxes that are resting next to the gondola, including one that is a long but shallow rectangle.

We, though who we are is indistinct, are trying to escape from an old rich man. We have driven to the top of a building that has just been built. It is of a very simple design, but elegantly so. The roof is small but densely studded with antennas of all shapes and types. There are even antennas that lie flat on the surface of the roof. I see that one of the antennas ends in a thick metal lightning bolt, which I know is the antenna that my phone uses so I don't worry about reception. We are riding over the top of this small roof in a tiny van. As my brother Rick drives the van towards the edge of the roof, he says that we'll have a brief gentle fall. Then he drives off the room and we float gently down the four floors to the street. I see this take place from the point of view of someone perched on the edge of the roof even though I am in the van. One we land on the street below, we make a right turn at the corner of the building and turn into a steady stream of traffic.

We are still being chased by the rich man who is driving a very small car, one he barely fits in. We elude him for a bit, but later we realize that he is resting on the flat bed of a tractor-trailer between large crates filled with cargo. I see this as if I am floating above the truck, but I am in a van a couple of miles ahead of him at this point. The man's car is now a standard white toilet, and its bowl filled with water that does not leak out. He is resting beside the toilet as the truck follows us.

We find ourselves in a little Christian revival taking place beside a small pond in the woods. We have not been baptized, so they are preparing to baptize us but they are not sure we are ready for it. The old man arrives on the scene, so we are anxious to be baptized, or to enter the water and escape from him. The people begin to sing and file their way down an aisle created between their pews of folding chairs laid out upon a gentle slope and stopping right at the edge of the water. The people at the revival walk down the aisle carrying white computer keyboards that are actually complete computers. They hold them as if they were lyres or small harps. They are singling. Some place their computers on a seat and walk into the water, while others sit down and begin to type into their computers.

In the upper left-hand corner of an otherwise blank page is the word "Registration," and beneath that, in smaller type, there are three long strange words, stacked one upon the other. Just then, a telephone call arrives from my brother. He says our grandfather has taken a turn for the worse and is not expected to live. I hang up, thinking, "But Grandpa died years ago."

The front door of my childhood home opens and my mother comes outside. I see someone lurking by the road. He looks like he must be a salesman. He joins us. After mumbling something we can't understand, he says, "It operates entirely on Latin." I say, "What operates on Latin?" He says, "The pump." Then he goes into a long spiel about the quality of our water, and how his device is guaranteed to improve the taste. As patiently as I can, I tell him our water is excellent, and that we've been drinking it for years. "Ah-ha," he says. "Well water, right? It's sure to turn bitter any day now."

My mother is tired. She is much older now than when she first came outside. I tell the salesman he should leave. But he insists on showing us his device. His assistant, a woman who wasn't there before, hands him a cardboard box. He opens the flaps and pulls out an unlikely looking metal contraption that has been packed in chicken feathers. It's made of stainless steel, and looks like a countertop towel holder with too many places for the towels. A few feathers are still clinging to it. I remember a mean rooster we had when I was thirteen. Plymouth Rock.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I had a dream that Obama had sex with Elaine Benes from Seinfeld, and afterward they were lounging post-coitally in the front seats of, was it a Subaru? And the sun was shining on their faces, intense sun, and Obama said, "I haven't got this much sun since I went fishing."

And I was standing outside the car, in front of it, and I thought, "Only a few weeks and he's cheating on us already?"

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Woke up this morning from a dream of the desert (maybe late winter desire to escape upstate New York, maybe compensation for having had to cancel next month's projected trip to Djanet, the south-eastern desert oasis in Algeria where friend Habib Tengour is traveling to this weekend, ¿quien sabe?). And dawn-dreaming of vast stretches of sand, of variously shaped sand dunes, though not able to remember the rich Arab vocabulary for their different shapes, I got stuck on the word "dune" — made a verb of it, "to dune," then a noun applicable beyond sand, then all of a sudden the word arose as a name, Mr. Dune, and yes, there is a Mr. Dune I knew, a distinguished Luxembourg poet whom I met only once, some thirty years ago.
The menacing AWP dreams are back. I have them all year long, but they step up as the date approaches. The latest involves sharing a hotel room with my dad, Posh Spice and some other guy. We're doing a panel together. We're very late and I'm not even registered. I use Posh's tiny eyebrow scissors to cut the tags off my underwear.

Dreamovie 79

I am flying somewhere in a plane to drop someone off on an otherwise deserted island.

I am back at home at a university, giving a talk. Afterwards someone points to a signboard (and its removable plastic letters) complaining about some particular thing I've said. I am not sure how the signboard contains my message.

I turn and go into my house. My mother is there, and I'm trying to hide people from her, people that I think she thinks are dead. One of them is a woman. When my mother is out of the house, we sneak the woman up to the third floor, which doesn't look like the third-floor of my house. The space is much larger but also looks more like an attic. We leave the woman up there. She sits alone.

We return to the island, though I don't know who we are besides me. We rescue the man we've stored there, tied up, in the cargo hold of a plane. I can't believe we've left him there tied up, so we untie him quickly and move back home. He may be my brother Rick.

We are in the basement of my house, which is not my house's basement, and we are trying to figure out how to walk up the stairs and through the kitchen, which resembles my grandmother's kitchen, and into the attic without my mother seeing me. We need to sneak the woman we left in the attic back up to the third floor as well.

Somehow we succeed, and I leave the woman there talking with my brother Rick.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Virginia Woolf-obsessed college professor was in my backyard. Incidentally, her name was actually Mrs. Dalloway. And she was about to die.

But not before cooing some reassurances to me about how beautiful & pleasant & necessary death is.

Then Mrs. Dalloway set to making her final arrangements, which included the Geico gecko who was to be her guide and companion on her journey to the underworld. She went to the gate in the side yard where an invisible gondola was moored. She got in and disintegrated.

Then her scrawny dog ran into my house where I was now located. My mother said it was fitting the dog should die, that it would prove its loyalty to Mrs. Dalloway by doing so. We watched the dog suffer.

Dreamovie 78

It is night, and I am entering, possibly without invitation, a white house that sits behind a high white wall at the corner of a city block. My companion and I are searching for something in the place, but I do not know what. We check the attached garage, we move through a big workroom, and we finally find ourselves in the foyer of this house, which is dominated by large concrete stairs that rise up to what appears to be another front door but this one inside the house. We are at the bottom of the stairs. A man comes out of that door. He has wild white hair that goes out in all directions from his head. The light behind him turns him into a dark and gyrating silhouette. We escape from the house, exiting through the wall, which has now turned into a tall thick hedge, and we escape to street, where we jump onto a motorcycle and drive away, making a left turn around the corner.

I am in Washington, DC, and the day is sunny and almost cloudless. Under a bright blue sky, I move, maybe by boat, maybe on foot, to an island in the Potomac. I do not seem to have any reason for doing that, but after I do the island, and possibly the city itself, comes under attack from various directions. Helicopters spit bullets at us from the sky, boats attack the island and land sending armed soldiers up the gentle slope of the island. Those of us on the island, retreat to a two-storey white building in the middle of it.

I am driving through the countryside, trying to get somewhere, though I do not know where. There is ice on the roads, and the sky is overcast. The entire world is dark. I drive down one road, but a school bus is blocking my way. I drive further and discover that roads everywhere are blocked, which might mean that someone is trying to catch me.

I find myself in a village that resembles an ancient Italian village somewhere at the growing edge of darkness. Someone is conducting a formal school test, but it is not taking place in school, not in classrooms. The testing is taking place outdoors. Maria tells me she gave me a C, which I feel I deserve, but I don't know why. She seems apt to change it, however. She says Tony also received a C, but he has complained about it. It seems that she will not be changing his grade. As we talk about this, we walk up a hill into the night.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I dreamed I drove to look at an apartment downtown. Parking was scarce as always. I found the place, a dingy brownstone. There was a brown metal door with no number on it but I knew it was the place. The apartment I was considering was down a flight of stairs, underground, a basement apartment. The actress from Poltergeist, Zelda Rubinstein, met me at the bottom of the stairs in the room, for that's what it was, one big brown room. There was a huge bed, a fairly decent kitchen. I crawled on the bed and looked out the window. I could see the sky, and half of a high school band (including tuba and symbols) listlessly playing in the street to supposedly give cheer to construction workers demolishing a building on the corner. Zelda gave me a skeleton key and some scraps of wadded up paper, and told me the apartment was for dwarves. I told her I was 5'10" and she said Oh that's ok honey, in her STEP INTO THE LIGHT CAROL ANNE voice. I asked her what the rent was, and she pulled some paper out of her pocket and scribbled some figures, then she said, With the government allowance it's $2 a month. I thought I could save a lot of money paying $2 a month rent, and asked if I could look around. I discovered there were a bunch of apartments all connected to mine like a train, and no doors. I found a bathroom and there was a toilet, a larger than life sink, a weird tub with all kinds of metal tubing and plastic hoses and chairs that lowered down into the water, awful dried orange sponges, hairnets, and folded hospital towels — the accoutrement of the elderly. I realized this was the place in which I was to die. I hightailed it out of there, up the stairs and ran down the street, then ran back and shoved the skeleton key and the wads of folded paper in the door's small rectangular mail slot. Zelda came out as I ran away again, waving merrily, saying, We'll save it for you!
A large meeting room. A sense of opportunity, then fear. Two young women sitting behind a table near the entrance. A man in front of me, fumbling with a small complicated name tag. Folding it. Unfolding it. Sticky backing. No room for names longer than Jones. The women smiled. They didn't mind. They said we were allowed to ruin as many name tags as necessary. I thought, "Why do we need name tags? Why can't we just introduce ourselves?" I put down the tag I was holding and drifted into the crowd. No one was making eye contact because they were all trying to read the name tags. Someone looked at my chest. "I'm up here," I said.
I was walking on a dimly lit, icy city street with my 9 year old daughter. On a slight incline in the sidewalk, I started to slide and couldn't move forward. She grabbed my hand so I wouldn't fall, then helped me walk the rest of the way. I noticed her mittens were deep blue speckled with reds and oranges. The dream gave me a feeling of intense contentment that made me think everything in my life is going to be okay.

Dreamovie 77

I am at a conference in a large hotel, but the attendees are housed not in the usual hotel rooms but in more of a dormitory-like situation. On the walk to my room, I pass through a lobby area on a guest floor. Some of the conference goers have congregated here preparing to sleeping here on large chairs. I continue, now down a narrow hallway, which is lined on both sides with doors right beside each other. Apparently, these doors do not lead into guest rooms. At the end of the hallway, the space opens up (doorlessly) into what appears to be a large communal dormitory room. My space is with the men, to the left, and against a range of large windows. To the immediate right is a covey of young women. I never look at the rest of the room, which is huge, to see if anyone else is staying in that room. After I put down my luggage, I run back down the hallway, pushing myself off both walls of the hallways at once. Eventually, I build up enough speed that I can glide down the down the hallway and into the lobby space. I land right before the large wide stairs leading downstairs. I turn around and run back down the hallway in the other direction. I glide to my bed and put something down on my nightstand. The young women who will be sleeping on the other side of the nightstand ask me something about my gliding. I race again down the hallway and glide even more, circling the room. I race back to my room, gliding out the open windows. Now, I realize that I must keep my arms out in front of me in order to maintain my glide, to keep from falling, and I glide towards the ground, never landing.

I have to call June, and she starts telling me about her day, including the music she's listening to. She begins to say a few things that are a little embarrassing just as I realize my phone is on speakerphone, but the control for turning it off is not on my phone. I can hear her voice coming out of a recliner in the room I'm in. It takes a bit of searching for me to discover that the toggle switch to turn off the speaker is in the side of a cushion on the chair. As I have been talking to her on the phone, I realize that she is talking to me from the very next room, which is divided from the room I'm in by nothing more that an open space in the wall, one that is about three times the width of another door. After I take the phone off speakerphone, I continue to talk to June on the phone, wandering in the room I'm in and waiting for Nancy to arrive.

For some unknown reason, I am handling large sheets of thick white paper. The sheets are about four feet high and three wide, and they are a kind of watercolor paper. I am struggling with the pages at the side of the road, trying to decide what to do with them. Eventually, I decide to leave them on the grass between the sidewalk and the street so that they can go out with the trash. But after I look at them on the ground, I decide that I can find something to do with them, so I pick them back up again. As I do, I realize that a couple of the sheets are cut into the shapes of capital A's, so I decide that I don't need them and I put those back down. As I look at them on the ground, I remember that I like having objects in the shapes of letters, so I move to pick up those diecut sheets. As I move back towards the sheets, it begins to rain. As I reach for them, I see they are now becoming soaked and turning brown from the muddy water underneath them. As I pick up the sheets, the rain picks up, so I drop the sheets, crossing the street with my uncut sheets in my hand.

I head towards the building that I have come from, which is large and possibly a hotel or a hospital. I go to the basement in the building, which is the basement to my house, though it resembles that basement only slightly. My plan is to store my large sheets of paper there. A couple of men appear. One of them, the older one, is looking for a place to store something perishable. As I stand beside my doorless refrigerator, I tell him that my refrigerator will work. He looks at me incredulously, so I tell him that all I have to do is put a door on the refrigerator. He still looks at me incredulously, so I point to the refrigerator door that rests between the wall and another refrigerator that I haven't noticed before even though it is right behind the two men.

A race is taking place. Hundreds of people are running in packs between maypoles, which are placed at the crests of small hills. The runners swarm from place to place, sometimes going back and forth between two maypoles like cricketers running between wickets. Among the runners is a little blonde girl, who is trying to win the race. She makes it first to the top of a hill where I'm standing, and she thinks she will win the race. But she is only a few feet tall. Those of us standing at the top of the hill discuss how she cannot win because no matter how hard she runs, her legs will always be much shorter than everyone else's. The girl keeps running, this time away.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A few nights ago, I dreamed that Mark and I were at the Embarcadero in San Francisco to meet Nicholas Manning (someone I only know, to the extent that I know him at all, through blogland). The Embarcadero was more like a souk--a lot like Fez, actually. While we were wandering around, I saw someone that looked French. This was my dream logic, because I can't actually describe what Nicholas looked like in my dream. He only vaguely looked like his blog picture, but when I saw him in the dream, I knew that he looked French and I walked up to him, touched him on the shoulder in a very formal way, and said "you are Nicholas Manning." He had a friend with him who had glasses but other than that was completely inconsequential to the dream.

After this greeting, the four of us walked outside to the deck of the market, but instead of San Francisco bay was a beach that looked more like the Carlsbad State beach. The light, sand, and water were a kind of rich golden color--a dreamy sort of late-afternoon pre-sunset color. Nicholas said, with great drama, "Ah, it is the Nile! Let us bathe!" In my dream, I had a moment of Wait, this isn't the Nile. Oh, maybe it is. Why not? I was reluctant to swim but then eventually did.

After that, we went back into the market/souk, and Nicholas began talking about rabbits and cats. He said something like "there is no animal better matched to the cat than the bunny. They are equals in every way, especially strength and ferocity." In response to this observation, I pulled out a series of wallet-sized, color holographic images of all the animals I've ever known--pets, friends pets, animals I've seen and remembered, etc. I put these pictures out on a card table in a way that suggested I was telling someone's fortune. We all examined the pictures.

I noticed that there was a bird sitting at the end of the table. The bird was Lester and also a tiger-colored tomcat I used to know named Benjamin. I noticed that the bird/cat had some pin feathers, so I reached out to scratch his head, and this is how the dream ended.

Dreamovie 76

I am riding in strange automobile vehicle with a woman. The vehicle looks like a huge white stone man, and it walks us from place to place. Instead of a head, the vehicle has a rough stone couch and the woman and I sit upon it. I am on the left and she is on the right. The couch does not remain steady atop the vehicle, and we have no seatbelts to hold us in, so we have to hold onto our respective arms of the couch to keep from plummeting about 200 feet to the ground.

The vehicle walks along the path of a river. On the other riverbank, a train runs around a bend. In the river, an old-fashioned riverboat plows through the water. As we watch this scene, we realize that the train and the riverboat are racing, and that the train is winning and thus proving that modern technology trumps the old.

Our perch atop this vehicle is too precarious to continue, so I suggest we stop and dismount. The woman with me doesn't want to stop, but we end up telling the vehicle to walk us to a low classic California ranch. We climb down the vehicle and walk into the house.

Sidney's Absence in Chuck's Presence:

Here I am in a sterile hotel conference room in Chicago, before an assembly of dark grey suits and tight-looking women in black pumps and pantyhose. I'm dressed resplendently, though inappropriately, I suddenly realize, in a floor-length Mongolian deel made of emerald green silk. I'm here to give a marketing presentation on the new book by Sidney Goldfarb that we just published at Station Hill.

My only anchor in this odd, uncomfortable context is Chuck Stein, planted meditatively on a chair to my right, looking for all the world like a Bodhisattva.

I begin to speak.

"Here," I say, "is the book." I hold up a copy of Rushes of Tulsa, feeling comforted by the placid cow and hovering chair against the open blue sky on the cover. Immediately a woman sitting front and center interjects in a peevish tone, "well how do we know the author really exists?"

"Of course he exists!" I reply emphatically. "Here's the book. He's the one who wrote it."

"Then why isn't he here?" someone else calls out.

"He is," I say defensively, "I just stopped by his room on the way down."

With this last statement I stop in my tracks, suddenly realizing that I didn't actually see Sidney in his room, only that he had been staying there. I look over at Chuck pleadingly, hoping he'll back me up. Chuck sits there silently beaming a beatific smile.

Then a sudden thought occurs: while in Sidney's room, I had taken a pair of pants he had obviously just been wearing. The pants are magically in my hands now, still warm and suffused with Sidney's presence, as if he had just that moment stepped out of them. Now I'm no longer dressed in my deel, but in a supple bodysuit reminiscent of a scuba suit. I hold up the pants to show the skeptical audience. Looking at the pants - made of hideous tan & blue plaid cloth - I think, "my god! I can't imagine that Sidney would actually wear such a thing!"

I now step into the pants and pull them up over my bodysuit. They're gargantuan on my small frame, so I gather the surplus fabric around my waist and cinch it tight with the belt, which is fortunately still there, laced through the belt loops. The pant legs fall in a baggy cascade down my legs and pool up at the hems. But the garment is now fastened securely around my waist, and I begin to laugh and dance gaily as if this were a street carnaval in Brazil rather than a marketing presentation in a stuffy hotel in Chicago. Chuck sits silently beaming. I awaken here with a giggle.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The summer camp was desolate.
A windy field.
The visitors chattering
with clumps of bright balloons.
Though I’d begun to discover how to elevate,
their mindless blather and heedless gaiety
brought me to a boil,
and I tried to pop the balloons
with an angry pinch.

The way to get out of the doldrums was this:
scan the colors of the field for a patch
with a certain living brightness
and fix on it;
then find the edge of a cliff
at the top of a hill,
and when the brightness fills the space
beyond the edge,
trust to leap
into the grand abyss
and fly beyond
the common world.

Cliff after cliff
abyss beyond abyss
opened over
a desolate terrain—
no life had ever assumed
within its colored gravels and sullen pools—
Oh yes, there was water—some water—mostly dried up now
and the magic, desert-like geography
proved to be a space
on the outskirts of Barrytown.

If my flying failed and I found myself grounded,
again and again I climbed the gravel cliffs
with hoof and claw—
declivitous, almost vertical—
and at the top
against the certain shining of the space above it
flew again.

This time, I don’t think I’ll make it, so I spy
a pool below
of a yellow “calcite” liquid
and allow myself another stratagem –to fall
the calcinated water
into my body below
and seamlessly wake then.
a man talking about a woman who
has received so much praise she
can't get over herself--
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day.
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May
the dreamer gets confused--
a blackened front lawn being hosed--
some guy who cooks french fries
who's fallen into
excessive pondering of
what solutions french fries could be cooked in--
people, especially poets,
who go over the top
when a subject piques their interest--
Life is but a--
the dreamer wakens.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Last night I dreamed I was in a forest at night, carrying my violin in one hand and holding the hand of a little girl with my other. Hand. We came to the edge of a small lake that was frozen, but beginning to thaw at the edges, the most dangerous kind of frozen lake. I was wearing a short blue dress cinched at the waist. I gripped the little girl’s hand and skated out pulling her along. I skated and looked back and found I had carved a perfect Möbius strip into the ice. On the other side of the lake we approached a long black train with one open window. I lifted the girl into the window, handed her my violin, then hoisted myself in. We walked down the center of the train, and each side was filled with berths where children studied with books and slide rules and black boards, their heads down. Dusty chalk filled the air. The train was ominous, no parents anywhere. Perhaps the children were orphans. They were certainly not happy. I realized that we were in danger. We escaped somehow, and ended up in a crowded market in India.

Rememoried #6

I was visiting Pop-pop on Long Island (he lived far east nearish Montauk) & decided to take a detour & drop by Mark Doty's house (in my dream he just lived out there, though now that I think about it I do know that he lives on Fire Island).

I didn't bring any poetry to read or review in with me, despite having a few manuscripts in my car. I instead asked where a good pizza place was.

Doty had hidden little writings on fortune cookie size papers around his house. I found one under a hat on a kitchen table. It had "1915" written on it in neat black pen.

There was also a farm involved.

Three menacing dreams last night:

Some "fake police" were breaking down the door of my apartment. One of the cops had a machete. I gave Monk (Tony Shalhoub) his gun and an extra ammunition clip. Then I noticed there was a window and fire escape -- we ran out through there. But I didn't take my purse. How was I going to start the car without my keys? How would I survive without identification and money?

In the second dream I was living in an apartment owned by a poetry organization. Turns out a poet who harassed me into a closet with another poet was moving in. I told him if he came near me, I'd call the cops. Hopefully these would be different cops than the ones in the first dream. Either way I was going to have to move.

The last dream involved loan sharks. Chris and I owed a lot of money. The loan sharks stoles our possessions, but agreed to sell them back to us for just a few pennies. They also wanted their $200k. I had no idea how we were going to pay so I suggested to Chris that we pack our stuff and run. I put on my running shoes. Then I saw the hidden cameras and knew that wasn't a possibility.
I'm standing near an enormous leafy tree of some ancient, unknown variety. Suddenly, a branch slowly descends, stopping just before it reaches the pavement. The branch is several feet in diameter and an impressive tree in its own right. It's so heavy, I wonder why it doesn't break. The neighbors' two young cLinkhildren are watching from their window across the street. I decide I should go and tell their father to keep them away from the tree. As I start out in their direction, the branch begins to rise. As it does, it also turns clockwise. By the time I'm across the street, it's fully upright. The father meets me outside. While we stand there talking, the branch comes down again. His wife and kids join us. We all get into the neighbors' van and after traveling a short distance we arrive in an old city. We park near a tall marble building. We get out and start to walk. We pass the tree again, and I tell myself to be sure to remember where it is. Around the corner there's a small restaurant with shiny maple tables and a fireplace. We go in. The neighbors have been there before. They know everyone. The kids' father asks if I can stay, but instead of answering I leave. I think I know where I'm going, but the streets and buildings have changed. I cross one street and turn left at the next corner, expecting to find the tree. I follow the sidewalk up a gentle rise beside an old cathedral. I turn left at the next street. The buildings on the west side cast a deep shadow. As I walk along, I pass some kind of crazy street performer. He's a young man partially enclosed in a wire cage, but his feet and hands are free. A few feet beyond, the street narrows and becomes an alley full of trash and tipped over garbage cans. Just before I wake up, or just after, I see the tree again. I'm glad, but I still don't know where I am.

Dreamovie 75

On an interior hill that sits within an office building, people are rolling down its grassy side and playing. I am one of those people. Afterwards, I realize that I have created a yellow-green stain near the buttons in the middle of my shirt. I realize that my tie will cover it up, so I do not worry about it. But as I replace my tie over the stain, I see that the stain appears in the same spot on my tie, that I have stained both places at the same time.

I am now at the top of the hill, in a wooden telephone booth such as used to be found inside public buildings. I am changing my clothes, changing into jeans and a T-shirt, since my work clothes are dirty. Chris W enters the building through the center of a range of doors at the top of the hill, and she prepares to address us, those people who work for her. As soon as I see Chris, I finish changing my clothes and I exit the telephone booth.

As Chris speaks, a man shorter than she and dressed in a suit stands behind her, holding his hands together in front of himself just above his crotch. As Chris talks, he takes over, contradicting her slightly. I do not know what they say. Either I pay attention only to the deeper meaning of their actions or I cannot understand them. It is clear that this other man is acting as if he is Chris' boss, yet I have no idea who he is.

After the meeting, I try to track down this man's office to figure out who he is. I wander down the cramped and twisting corridors of an old office space, moving quickly. I glance at the nameplates on the doors as I rush past each. I find his name on a door and discover that he is the deputy director of something I've never heard of, so he seems to be Chris' new supervisor.

At the end of my run through this tangle of hallways, I find myself in an open space, a large office, appointed in brown, with a lone secretary sitting at a large desk. I decide to wait there for this man.

The secretary has, apparently, washed the clothes I had stained. She hands them, folded in a neat pile, to me, so I take them from her and walk a few steps into the one-seater restroom to change. The room is quite cramped, especially for someone changing into clothes, but I manage to change into my work clothes. I then open the door.

I do not know who this woman is or why she has cleaned my clothes, but when I open the door, she hugs and kisses me. She is slightly older than me and attracted to me but I do not know why she is, and the situation befuddles me. As she lets go of me, the man I am waiting for appears.

I am in my room being intimate. Outside the door latched three times, "in Harlem," stands the Predator. The Predator has this way of knocking that I hate. It's just really annoying. She doesn't seem to have had lessons in manners behind door knocking. So I'm not going to let him in. He and she can have at it together, with their mixed symbolism: Aztec ceremonial grotesqueries mixed with Western Gothic buttresses all in a homo-derivative form. Now one such arm is knocking on my door. That the spear is a concept behind predatorily hunting shouldn't be surprising. The Predator fits woven in the mesh between civilization (war) and barbarism (individual gratification through violence) in a structure where food is "got," not purveyed, and now he's hers, ready to invade my harmonious sandwich. The chutneys of the Predator's eyes, his and her custom made spirit gaze, the three-pronged red beams scan through entangled home stereo setups and shoe caddies. In the end, happy that you're the Predator and not Arnold because that would be awkward to be human with Arnold, this was a productive dream with great progress toward reconciliation.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


our new heat coil snaked
gutters melting ice damns,
I push a polar bear in Homicide's
rooftop swing where Robin
Williams, cast as a wimp widower,
once sat mourning his defiant wife
who, chin jut out, refused to give
the gunman her gold locket.

The cub is part of our family now.

Thank god her growth is stunted
for good. (At two she had language,
by three she'd lost her human tongue.)
The cub likes to cuddle. We nuzzle.
Still, I must approach from behind,
take her in a half-nelson. I mime
my friend with her autistic triplets.
Of course, we had our bear spayed.

Dreamovie 74

I am at work, but it is outdoors in a forest glade. Instead of an office with a desk there is a bed, and we work around the bed. No-one even sits on the bed, but we place papers on it. We treat it as a table and we have a meeting while standing or kneeling around it. I am talking to Judy, Julie and Emily about a project concerning the educational uses of government records. I have given them a packet that outlines an exercise to use with teachers to teach them how to use records in the classroom. They don't understand the details of my exercise. They tell me that if they make one assumption versus another that the exercise could go in very different directions. I agree with them, explaining that the teachers must invent the details, that that is part of the exercise.

We are now back at the office and I am setting up a whiteboard in the hallway in front of the elevators. I am setting the whiteboard up in that spot to test a display that we will also assemble in the underground concourse of the Empire State Plaza. As I set up the whiteboard, I worry that people will complain because they cannot get around it. But I assume they can walk around to get to anyplace they need to on the floor. Our floor is a square with hallways along each of its four sides and one down the middle—and my display is blocking only the hallway in the middle. I continue to set up the display. The board is totally blank, so it seems pointless as a display, but then I add a holder to the board. This device attaches the whiteboard via suction and has holes through which to place and secure pens, but I use it to store toothbrushes. As I pull the toothbrushes, all of which my family is still using, in the holder, I hope that no-one steals any of them.

I am in a helicopter that lands on a building.

I am making a phone call from a car. A woman answers the phone, and I say, "Kirsten?" But the woman on the other end is not New York's new US senator Kirsten, so I wait while that woman looks for her. I have no idea why I have just tried to call a woman by her first name even though I don't know her, and I can no longer recall what I'm supposed to ask her about. I try visualize the sheet of paper with my notes so that I will know what to ask her when she answers the phone. She picks up the phone and says, "Hello."