Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I was with my son J, and friend D. and two Black ladies on the subway traveling around the city carrying a large cumbersome television, suitcases and one of the ladies seem to be in a wheel chair contraption with many straps. At first we seemed to be in the Rockaways, sense of being lost, underground, tired. Then, in a playground somewhere in Brooklyn. J wanted to hang out with a group of teens. I vaguely promise him "later." There is an idea to go to the Baseball Hall of fame which involves at least two more transfers to trains, uncertainty about exactly where it is; much dragging of our suitcases, the TV etc. We are on Metro North and I see from the window apartments made of crushed, recycled glass much compacted with tower, spire like structures like Rodia or Gaudi . Everything is glittering, bright. I keep saying I don't know where I am. Uncertainty as to whether we are in the Bronx or out of the city by the Hudson. We are then in a taxi driving uptown near Columbia Univerisity, an area unknown to me but often present in dream. We go down a very hilly street with cobblestones lined with small, almost quaint Korean restaurants. Sense of a new discovery of a part of the city I hadn't seen before. We see a kind of flea market or kiosks under tenting near a cathedral hidden in the shadows. Another often dreamt of, unseen building. I seem to have to walk very carefully around gates made of glass beads, everything precarious but fascinating. Lots of amethyst jewelry,crystals on tables. I realize the cathedral, which opens into the market, is of "The Scientific Americans" or "Christian Scientists." Realize that I need to investigate their religion more seriously. People seem to practice by going into darkened rooms with carpeted benches and then lie down with backs on the benches and feet on the floor in neat rows and then talk in low voices to one another about their feelings and spiritual process. Have an association with this cathedral and "Faberge Eggs."

Monday, March 30, 2009

A small gathering of slender, naked beings ... human perhaps, or distant star relatives ... the sound of an acoustic guitar gently being strummed ... I arrive at the upper edge of an immense stadium ... the seats are empty ... the music is coming from the stage far below ... I begin the long way down.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I’m standing in the graveled driveway in front of the house where I grew up when a kitchen on wheels pulls in. It has trailer house sides, but no steering wheel or windshield; the front end is a counter. Behind the counter is a friendly long-haired young couple I know from somewhere. They definitely know me. I say, “Welcome back.” The man offers me a cup of coffee. I say, “Coffee?” and the woman sighs and says, “Yes, that’s all we have this year.” After they give me the coffee, the man hands me three or four filtered cigarettes and a hand-rolled one that won’t stay together. I end up with loose tobacco in my hand.

Soon, a small crowd gathers, and we are inside the kitchen in a little sitting room behind the counter. I can’t find my coffee. A stranger points to a paper cup sitting on the window ledge. Through the ledge I can see the pine tree in our front yard. I notice then that I still have the cigarettes in my hand, and a new book of matches with several extra flaps, which are glossy-beige and unfold in opposite directions. Wondering if there is an advertisement for a correspondence course inside, I pry open the flaps. The inside cover is blank. I strike a match, but it goes out before I can light the cigarette. I try two more times, but a breeze coming through the window blows out the matches. Finally, I succeed. The cigarette has no flavor whatsoever.

Someone, I don’t know who, mentions the fact that the vineyards in the area are budding out beautifully this spring. Hearing this, I suddenly remember that I have completely forgotten to prune ten acres of vines along the north side of the property. I feel horribly guilty about this. Puffing on my flavorless cigarette, I realize that the only way I can possibly prune ten acres of vines is if I quit writing and prune like a madman for eight or nine hours a day to keep the vineyard from going to ruin. I am torn between what I should do and what I must do. I wake up thinking, “another vineyard dream.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I dreamed of those this morning. Big sci-fi python-type snakes. I had a hose that I was using to spray the path I was walking so I wouldn't slip. A snake coiled up my hose forcing me to abandon it. I kept walking without my hose and then a smaller snake in a bush bit me in the arm. Ouch. I felt it when I woke up.
In this dream there was a veterinarian office, which was also my dentist, two distinct visits to my dentist, brightly colored foamy substance all over the dentist's office that was attributed to an exploding squirrel, a very suspicious nurse who interrogated me as to why I was in waiting room, a guy with drinking straws poking out of the skin on his face, two poets, one of whom I had to make clear I AM NOT PLAYING FOOTSIES, and the other showed me a gift that I hoped was for me, but was really for his daughter, a school bus with strange graffiti that used to belong to the Obama campaign, an irresponsible man who was supposed to be my father and made me late to my first dentist appointment, a book review magazine that I already read, women folk not wanting to sit next to one another, an ugly green outfit, plans for a family photo shoot and a wild accusation that I bought a dog brush.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The children showed me where to lie down on the grass. Then they covered me with a sheet and told me to guess which of them was touching me. I felt little fingers on my head, then on the tip of my nose, on my knees, through my shoes ... and then, suddenly, the sheet was pulled away and a friend of mine said he wanted me to write something for the little newspaper he was publishing.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I was both watching and/or were
an Art dealer

of painters older aging

gifted but forgotten

disguised among musty spattered rooms

paying them merely the not too low

this dealer sees the death

of his secret favorite


over a honeymoon

his paintings brought to market, reluctant

some still in jars and in tears

to his core they spoke

knowing this worlds most misunderstood

these treasures

were fortunate

saved in a vault of these friends

paint from yesterday’s blood

from the previous dream

Saturday, March 21, 2009

It should be understood this happens
22 months after the fact

Here came together my life's multiple basements

One friend wondered where his stuff vanished
There had been the flood
Another protested never allowed a move there
i had to explain two fathers
a step and real whose power over had banished them

Then there was the blood of my murdered friend

dried upon floor thick and crumbled
left till the completed investigation-now over
cleaning with the too small towel
returned liquidity I was watched
spread sunk blacken scumble edged
beneath a sink of too high
and out of reach of cleansing water

Friday, March 20, 2009

i don't know, Laura Moriarty was there...we were standing in a group on the field at Woodside Elementary in Concord...Brandon Brown was probably there, but sort of as a black amorphous blob...and then suddenly a young Ron Silliman walks up...and he looks exactly like Michael Koshkin...he's handsome, and short...he has five o'clock shadow and a fade...he's wearing stylish black rimmed glasses...i think to myself "wow, i'm like 3 actual feet taller than young Ron Silliman"...and then Moriarty is talking about her poetics and i'm mouthing over Brandon Brown cum black amorphous blob's shoulder "it's young Ron Silliman...this is fucking crazy...young Ron Silliman is here..." but Moriarty doesn't quite get what i'm saying, looks at me confused, and keeps on talking about her poetics...and now we're walking down Pierce St. in front of my building...and it's raining...and i get a running start and slide a few feet on the slick pavement...i'm sort of showing off...and then from behind me comes young Ron Silliman sliding down the street...only he slides a lot farther than i did...and he suddenly looses control, falls back and hits his head on the pavement...and he goes limp...and he keeps sliding down the block...and now i notice a thick trail of blood on the pavement...and i run up to young Ron Silliman and he's dazed and bleeding profusely from the head...and i see that young Ron Silliman has cracked his skull pretty bad...and now i'm taking him into my apartment and wrapping his head in a bath towel...and the blood is soaking through the towel...and i think young Ron Silliman is dying...and suddenly i'm thinking about Natasha Richardson and i'm getting really scared for young Ron Silliman which makes me think about my 7th grade teacher...and how her and her husband went to Tahoe for the weekend on a ski trip...they went to Alpine Meadows which is where i used to ski as a kid...and that was the week she had been teaching us about poetry...we wrote haiku, persona poems, we attempted sonnets...i wrote a haiku about a bloody knife, and a sonnet about my grandma's soft skin...and then later we learned that my teacher's husband had been in an accident...he'd collided with a tree that weekend...and he'd died...and now i'm standing in my bathroom on a rainy night with young Ron Silliman who's bleeding from the head thinking about my 7th grade teacher's husband who died in a skiing accident and i can't remember her name...and i'm remembering all of this this morning driving to work listening to A Confederacy of Dunces on CD thinking about Ron Silliman's review of Jared Hayes's RecollecTED which came out at the end of our time together at Naropa which made me think about drinking beers with Michael Koshkin on his porch in Boulder writing silly drunk poems about Ted Berrigan's saggy scrotum based on a postcard of Berrigan in his underwear stuck to Koshkin's refrigerator...and then i thought, oh yeah, young Ron Silliman, he looked exactly like Michael Koshkin in my dream last night...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

George Quasha is hosting a call-in radio contest in which he recites a line of verse from a well-known poem, then challenges listeners to call in with the correct next line of verse. The first person who calls in with the correct response gets a prize, plus a crack at another poetry challenge with a more obscure poem.

I'm at home listening to the program on the radio, but somehow simultaneously seeing George doing the program in the radio studio, as if the very act of listening allows me to see everything, which feels perfectly natural to me.

So I'm sitting here listening/seeing, and George begins the first challenge with the following line of verse, which he says is from Shakespeare:

"If your true love you find not..."

He gives out the call-in number (a variation on his waking life number, with a different area code), and waits for the calls to come in.

I know instantly what the correct second line of verse is:

Try, try again"

I grab the phone to call. But things keep going wrong: first the light on the handset goes out, so I can't finish punching in the number and have to start over; now the line suddenly goes dead; now I press the wrong number and have to start over, and on and on. At first I'm feeling anxious and frustrated by all these stymied attempts to get through, but this feeling suddenly gives way to a recognition of the absurdity of it all. I start laughing even as I keep trying to call, then really start cracking up when alternative second lines start popping into mind spontaneously as alternatives to the "correct" one.

The only one I remember now is:

"If your true love you find not..."
"For godssake, just look out the damn window"

Soon I'm laughing so hard I can't even try to punch in the number anymore. I laugh myself awake.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I was on a charterd bus from Kent to Washington DC. we were going to a rally & march advocating trying Bush/Cheney for war crimes. also on the bus were friends from my university days & Elizabeth Taylor. I askd the actress if she'd ever been on a bus before. she sd "once. at an airport."

Sunday, March 8, 2009

I dreamed this morning that I was growing all these extra toes. They were a little shorter than my other toes kind of budding up in between. Seven total on the right foot and eight on the left, I think.
I'm at what must be a zoo watching these strange animals that are perfectly round. They have big saucer-like eyes and walk upright on long, skinny legs with knobby knees. I can't figure out what they are, and from my vantage point I can't even tell if they have fur or feathers. It almost looks as if they're in a husk, which makes them look more like coconuts on stork legs than either birds or mammals. They're strutting about, and disconcertingly silent, as there's no sign of either beak or mouth from which they might utter a sound. Something seems really off about them, and I feel vaguely disoriented just looking at them, though nobody else seems to be affected so.

As I start to walk away I see there are some discarded "husks" from the creatures behind their enclosure, so I go over to investigate. Even as I look more closely, I can't tell if they really are natural husks, or costumes made out of papier machê. I start imagining that it's all a hoax, and that the "animals" in the enclosure are really miniature circus people dressed in these round husks, and that they're walking on stilts. But wait - stilts with knee joints? I wake up not knowing.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

This morning I dreamed that my husband and I were attending a series of events held on the corner of Toorak and Tooronga Roads near to where we live. The venue on the open street overlooked the city in the distance and had the walled construction site of the new Tooronga shopping centre as its backdrop.

The woman conducting proceedings was a dark haired, pretty young thing, with Mediterranean eyes and glossy hair. She spoke from a pulpit set up on the nature strip. She came across as part evangelist, part singer and performer, and part newsreader. She tended to begin her performance with a serious introduction, some news of the world, a type of exhortation to live a good life, and then moved into a comic musical routine that appeared to win the hearts of her audience.

I was sceptical myself. I did not trust her. There was also a serious older man who stood by and occasionally spoke. He was the moderator, the one who kept things on track. The audience sat on the other side of Toorak Road. Someone had stopped all the traffic for these events.

On our second visit to hear the woman speak, my husband and I went for a walk mid proceedings through local side streets. For no apparent reason my husband stopped mid step. He was upset. By the time we arrived back at our car in readiness for a resumption of proceedings, he had become even more distressed and was visibly crying. He took a call on his Blackberry. I only managed to hear the tail end of his conversation.

‘Thanks, Elaine,’ he had said.

‘Who’s she?’ I asked. My husband told me then the story of how he had been having terrible and recurrent nightmares. Nightmares that were set in some place like the United Arab Emirates in which some dignitary, a Sheik or some such person, would cut out the rib cages of young women and leave them to bleed to death. The dreams were horrific and my husband said he could not bear them any longer. He wanted to do something about them, to understand them, and for this reason he had contacted the young woman who was at this moment at her pulpit performing. Elaine was her assistant. My husband considered that the performer was like a psychologist and he had made arrangements to see her that afternoon.

‘Fair enough,’ I said. I opened the car door to go back to the performance, but I was worried about leaving a large flat tray of melted ice cream on the back seat near where my husband was now sitting. I was fearful the ice cream might spill or that my husband might fall into it.

I went to resume my seat on the nature strip with the rest of the audience. My husband would listen to the performance from the car, he said. Then he asked me through the open window,

‘Was I happy?’

‘Yes,’ I said. I was happy enough. I wondered whether he might be wondering about the affair I had had some time ago that was now over and whether this young woman he planned to visit that afternoon would in turn fall in love with him. All young women fall in love with my husband, I thought – his gentleness to strangers, his sharp intelligence and his wit.

My husband sat in the back seat of the car crying. His skin looked tanned and he seemed to have lost weight. His skin almost shone with good health but he looked so unhappy.

‘Your happiness,’ he said to me, ‘is a Baptist type happiness’. I did not understand his words, (I still don’t) but I was struck by the strange way religious references had crept into our otherwise almost religion free lives. My memory of the dream ends here.
On a school campus on the edge of a sidewalk I find a baby that at first looks like a doll. His neck is very extended and it appears to be decaying. I push the head down closer to the shoulders and this seems to help.

Later I am in the office where I usually work at my usual desk. Then I realize that my boss has left for good and so I move to his old desk and take my phone and all its cords and messages with me. To the side of his desk are many brown bags of his projects along with bags of trash. It is hard to tell which is which. I have a good laugh with the woman who is taking my desk when I finally get why she was sitting beside me. We start laughing in relief that we don’t have to work at the same desk that is way too small for two people.

Then at some point there is a girl in a blue sweater who comes running in to report that a student is causing problems by trying to lure snakes onto a blanket on the grass. The girl is hysterical and has a pockmarked face. It occurs to me that we can’t help her.

I’m in the kitchen, holding a large brown raw egg. I start peeling the egg. Bit by bit, the shell falls away, but the membrane stays intact. I handle the egg as carefully as I can, but there’s one place where the membrane is torn. There’s a small frying pan on top of the stove, also a cardboard box full of old letters. The refrigerator opens; a gust of air lifts empty bread wrappers from the countertop. They land on the cold burners. I wonder how I’m supposed to fry an egg under these circumstances. A woman standing nearby says I’m not supposed to fry it, I’m supposed to see how long I can hold it. Now, through the tear in the membrane, I see a dark red flower.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Waking from a nightmare, in bed beside you, I explained it to you. We had been detained, held hostage in a ‘haunted’ house. Officers of the Gestapo were there, experimenting on our bodies. They had tortured our friends, carving ritualistic figures into their backs. There were two ghosts patrolling the building. Grey, blurred men with heartless expressions. Soldiers in uniform, killed in some distant conflict. I could hear them speaking to me, could hear their voices behind the walls. We broke out of the window, running through the suburbs at dusk. Soon we emerged into open cornfields, but the grey men were there already, like sentries or sentinels. We needed to leap onto a moving freight train, to evade the ghosts, to escape. The dream ended there, leaving me suspended, somewhere between entrapment and release. Upon waking I told you, ‘I don’t know whether we escaped.’ You turned over and looked at me. ‘We must have done,’ you said. ‘We’re here now, aren’t we?’ I stopped and thought. If we had been caught, perhaps neither of us would have woken up at all.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

An old truck hauling firewood has lost its load in the snow. The truck is parked by the curb, facing uphill. There are disinterested people walking by in dark coats and hats. The driver points to a low flat empty trailer behind the truck, and says he’d be happy if the wood were put on the trailer. I volunteer. He thanks me, then climbs into the cab. The wood is white. It blends with the snow. I pick up as much of it as I can find and put it on the trailer. Before long, the pieces I’m picking up are only the outside bark portion. I find them by locating their eyes, which look up at me through a layer of ice. I handle them carefully, because I think they might be ancient tribal masks. Finally, I give up. The driver is asleep. I walk into a building, thinking it’s a bank. Instead, it’s a little bar with very simple tables. Everyone is drinking the same thing, a non-alcoholic clear fluid served in six-ounce juice glasses. Everyone is happy. About three tables away, my mother is chatting and laughing with an elderly woman I don’t know. They’re having a wonderful time. She looks my way without recognition. I’m joined by a friend. He’s holding one of the drinks. He says it’s time to leave. I follow him around one corner and down some steps. The walls are made of orange clay. As we reach the bottom of the steps, he almost collides with a young boy, but he doesn’t spill his drink. The boy is no longer a boy, but a navy man in a fancy uniform. He passes by us without saying a word. I ask my friend if he’d like to go somewhere and have a real drink. He says no, he had far too much to drink the night before. I realize then that I don’t even remember the night before. It makes me wonder what else I don’t remember.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A friendly butcher is standing behind a high glass case stacked with steaks and birthday cakes. I hand him a flat box that holds a manuscript, but he thinks it’s a job application, and says the store owner will call me in a few days for an interview.