Sunday, August 30, 2009

At the beginning of this dream I was getting food in a fast-food restaurant. It is unclear (and unimportant) which one. Its location is also unknown, but it must have been in my hometown because when I came out to my car I drove just a short distance before I arrived at my aunt and uncle’s house. My sister was with me as I pulled up to the front door and parked. The porch had markings on the concrete floor indicating a parking space for a bicycle. It also contained the universal symbol for handicapped persons. As my sister exited the car I handed her a long note that had been given to me by a young girl at the restaurant. She had handed it to me with the explanation that it was for my sister and had been written by her mother, who was seated at a nearby table. The woman had waved to me and I had said hello to her.

Next, the dream shifted locales abruptly. I was now at the showing of a movie with both my mother and my sister. The theater was an old car dealership building on the highway in the center of Highland, NY. The screen was small - not much larger than a large screen tv, and was in the front corner of the room we were in. Most of the wall of that room was the large plate glass window of the showroom. Approaching from the northeast was a storm. The wind and rain was intensifying by the minute, but in its wake the skies were
clearing. During a lull in the action onscreen my sister asked me what time my appointment was. Apparently I had a meeting of some kind to attend. The storm grew more intense and the sky darkened considerably. The plate glass window began to crack and everyone in the audience moved to the rear of the room to avoid any flying glass should it shatter. Finally, the glass did break and someone shouted that a tornado was approaching. We could see it through the broken window. We heard the distinctive roar and panic set in. The cyclone was headed straight toward us. The audience scattered through two doors in the rear of the room and ran in all directions. I lost track of the whereabouts of my mother and sister as I headed north along the rear of the building. There were heavy curtains or drapes hanging all around me as I continued to make my way along the outside wall. I made my way past other buildings along the edge of a steep incline behind them. Every so often I would part the curtains to check on the status of the tornado. During one such look I watched a building shatter and be torn apart. I kept moving until the funnel cloud had passed and begun to dissipate. As I made my way back toward the road to see the devastation and begin my search for my mom and sister someone approached me and said that there was someone nearby from up near Kingston. He had earlier heard me exclaim that the storm seemed to be dissipating to the north where I was from. At this point I awoke and the dream was over. I never did find my missing sister or mother.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

...three uncles dead in car-crash I'm in a warehouse & responsible for cutting up their bodies for burial....takes me an hour to cut one piece into tiny pieces, a rack of lamb like a hand....warehouse like something from a Mafia movie where drug deals go bad....

This is so slow, I'm inexperienced & crying now....must confess to the two undertakers, I -- I'm Donnie Brasco? -- can't ever get this done in time for the funerals. They'll do it, but how can I find the money, when I'm sure it will cost at least $5,000 for each body.
Walking in dreams I sometimes
looking over my shoulder shouting empathy
across the sea, the surf subtles sparsely
across suggestions of “Have I been here already?
Is that already happening?” before
awake alert I glance sidelong only to find her hanging along.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A wordless progression
of images and photographs

pick up a leaf
reveal a face
hidden beneath

see the sky
a stream

a fern
a cloud

reach inside

to find

my hand again

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I had a weird dream that I met Sylvia Plath in some underground cave of water and she was showing me how to get to some land.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Dream-weeping willows

The yellow car stopped at the entrance of my house and someone opened the passenger’s door without stepping out. I saw the glimpse of a brown hand, spotless edge of a white sleeve and gold cufflinks with insignia of dragons embossed on it. I waved a goodbye to them and with joyful strides set out towards the waiting car. My haversack felt empty as I laid it on the back seat. Hollowed and pulpy, as if I have dropped everything on the way. I pressed on the black leather in panic and heard a whoosh of air escaping from the half open zipper. He smiled at me and said nothing.

I looked back at them, for one last glimpse and final wave, but there was no house, no door. I saw a row of weeping willows, yellowing in the autumn sun. Beyond that was a mossy, black wall and they were sitting on it. Laughing, jeering faces. Their lips made a perfect ‘O’ and they waved their arms at me wildly, in unison. Go…just go!

The road ahead was wet and gray, undulating like a writhing, black snake. The walls at both side of the road was broken down and painted with a parched yellow color. Suddenly it rose, higher and higher as the car sped on the empty road.

‘Will we reach on time?’ I asked his rigid profile.

‘We will reach.’ His voice was ricocheting against the whirr of the engine. I tried to hold on to the edges of my seat but there was water everywhere. No safety belt, just water. Rippling, raging, rising waves and my hands just scoured at the angry bubbles without holding on to anything. The sharp and cold currents were gnawing at my fingers and I found my side of the car caving slowly into a sidewalk quagmire.

I looked at him and he was still looking ahead. Moving the steering wheel furiously, with one hand. ‘Stop.’ I said but I didn’t hear my voice. I said it again but the sound did not come out. My lips moved, gasping for air, like the mouth of a fish left out on the dry shingles. No sound came out still. I reached over to shake him, pull out the key from ignition, but he was not there. The seat was empty. The car had stopped and it was sinking into the squishy ground at my side. I opened the door of the car and swam through the yellow waters of a muddy river. The sun was beating down, scorching my skin, as I looked up at the dry vacant sky. The yellowing walls at the side of the road were turning into willows again, and I ran on the hot, dry tarmac. My feet were hurting as it hit the concrete surface. He was chasing me now. His gold cufflinks glinting in the sharp sunrays as he waved at me to stop.

I ran and ran and getting inside a bathroom locked myself in. the bathroom was freshly painted in bright pink color and a white plastic bucket was put upside down on the floor. He was sitting on the bucket removing his cuff links.

‘I can’t seem to get rid of these.’ He spoke to me and I nodded.

In the corner of a yard I didn’t recognize, my father was raking leaves by a wooden fence. The leaves were old and rotten and piled deep. There was a small tree trunk nearby that I thought should be removed. I told my son it would be easy to dig out. But when we walked around it, the other side was massive. I said, “What happened? This tree looks like it’s 300 years old.” Two words, then, died on my lips: “petrified” and “sycamore.” My father, meanwhile, had found another area under some bushes that needed raking. I could tell by his movements that he was angry about something. He quickly finished the area and went to the front yard. We followed him. The sun was up in the backyard, but in the front it was still mostly dark. My father disappeared behind some bushes near the foundation. Again, he started raking. A neat row of leaves appeared on the lawn. Then, silence. My father was gone.

I dreamed I had traveled overseas for the next International Autobiographical and Biographical Association conference (IABA). I was on a bus traveling to my hotel in Morocco, where the conference was to be held. I travelled with my friend, Christina. When the conductor came to us I had no money for my ticket and needed to borrow a pound from her. Christina was gracious in lending her money but I felt dreadful (she could ill afford it) and I determined that I should not forget to repay her.

Next I am in a queue of people led by the conference organiser, Margaretta Jolly. She has a clipboard under her arm and seems officious as we weave our way through long corridors in the Moroccan university (which looks for all the world like any university I have even been inside in Australia – the same dull grey office chairs and desks) en route to the conference room. So far I do not recognise a soul and I feel sadly out of place.

We reach a sort of dead end in the form of a large room with windows. The only way out beyond the door through which we came is through the windows. Margaretta makes her way through one of them with a couple of others but a university caretaker stops the rest of us. We must not travel through university windows this way, he says. In order to get to the conference room we must backtrack part way along from where we have come and then turn down another corridor.

Eventually we reach the room, three quarters full of people already. For a while I sit down with Millie M and her husband. I am surprised to see them here. This is an IABA conference, not a psychotherapy one. We chat. Millie is eating from a plate piled high with what I imagine to be Moroccan food, couscous, and some sort of exotic dips, fruits and nuts. She is friendly but I sense an awkwardness, whether in her or me, and I am glad to get away.

I sit beside a woman whom I have never seen before. She does not wear a nametag. Nor do I, I realise, and wonder whether it would not in fact be helpful for all of us to wear such tags. The woman introduces herself. She spells out her name, which she says so quickly that I cannot catch on to the letters: L.E.U… or some such thing.

‘I am a professional atheist,’ the woman says. She has a look on her face as if she expects me to be impressed by these words, whether positively or negatively. She has said this to people before and clearly gets a reaction every time.

I am impressed, but before I can say more the conference begins. Margaretta starts off a discussion about autobiography and various people speak. When it comes to my turn I respond to the story of the woman who spoke before me. She had been telling the audience about how she had spent her last two years of school in a Catholic convent as a boarder. She had won a scholarship. Somehow her story seemed to be packed into a box of Vita Brits. I could see the half packed box on the stage in front of me. I started to speak about my own reservations about priests.

‘I do not like priests, ‘I said, no longer confident. I realised as soon as I had said this that my audience disapproved – furrowed brows, cross faces. There were priests in the audience perhaps. I had spoken out of turn. I tried as hard as I could to backtrack.

‘It’s not the people I dislike,’ I said. ‘It’s the position.’

But it was too late. I rattled on then about something to do with my own childhood when someone sitting nearby called out to me,

‘What’s your point?’ I tried desperately to find one, to bring my comment back to the story of the previous speaker, and to wind up my words. The conversation went on then with other people taking their turns to speak. I looked around the room indignant. I wanted to go home, to leave this large group. I felt such a failure. This is an IABA conference but none of these people are autobiographers. They are historians and people from memory studies, literary critics and the like. I am an autobiographer and they hate me for it.

The telephone rang and I woke up.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A snippet of a dream. I went to a supermarket, one of those small IGA types where the corridors are narrow and dark and some of the things high up on the shelves look as though they have been there for a long time, well past their used-by dates.

I was looking in the toothpaste section for a substance I could use on my gums. My fifteen-year-old daughter who wears braces on her teeth uses something like this whenever her braces are adjusted to stop the freshly realigned wires from digging into the sides of her cheeks. I was delighted when I found the stuff in a form I had not seen before –cylindrical sticks of what appeared to be a clear resin like substance. They reminded me of the glue sticks my children use in their glue guns.

I selected the largest pack, which contained about eight sticks and made my way to the register. There were already two women there, one of whom kept leaving her place at the counter and rushing back into the corridors in search of more groceries. The cashier had decided to serve her first, which seemed unfair to me because I sensed the other woman had been there longer and besides the first woman was holding everything up.

The second woman, waiting her turn, exuded that anxiety I often feel when I rush through the shopping. She said nothing but I could feel it in her body language. She was in a hurry. Impatience poured from her pores but if the cashier registered this she did nothing about it. I felt relieved that for once I was not in a hurry.

My memory of the dream peters out here and I am left with a vague sense that it took forever for the two women to be served. I had entered the supermarket in daylight, by the time I walked out night had descended.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Last night I dreamed:

There's a devil statue in my attic. A man approached me and offered his help to get rid of it, but I had to be careful because the devil statue could hear everything I said. Then I became suspicious that maybe the man was trying to trick me to get close to the statue. 3 people I know (1 poet/writer, a past co-worker of mine and one of Chris') were trying to build a machine to wake up the devil statue. I tried to stop them. I tried to hide parts they were using to build the machine. But it was no use. They were gonna wake up the devil.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I dreamt I was defending The Kindly Ones to three people who didn’t understand it. I gave a long, eloquently worded exposition of the book, putting particular stress on the chapter called “Air” – I woke up as I was in mid-sentence, discussing Genet and Bataille. As I woke up I thought to myself, Good grief, I have to defend it in my dreams even…
The night before I finished translating a 500-page sentence I dreamt I saw the last page and was devastated to see that the sentence came to an end three paragraphs before the actual end of the book. All that effort wasted, I thought. I saw the page very clearly in the dream: the long sentence coming to an abrupt end, and then three paragraphs full of short sentences after it. I woke up with a feeling of dread, which was eased when I saw that that was not actually the case: the sentence continued its sustained breathlessness to the very end of the book.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I had a dream that I was in Paris and carrying the book around. I went into J Crew (yes, in Paris) and gave them my credit card - I think you had to get a credit card to get in there. My card was bad, so they said, 'we'll have to take your book away.' I FREAKED out and ran out of the store. It was raining and my book got wet. This is the third dream 'in which I was a poet' in two weeks. I also dreamt that Eileen Myles was my boss at the Department of Education and that I was trying to write a poem like Mei Mei Berssenbrugge writes a poem - with collage pieces all over the table.
I don’t know why, but every few weeks or months, I dream that I’ve either forgotten to prune the vines and trees on our old family farm, or that it’s late in the season and I’ve fallen far behind. It happened again last night. First I thought I’d better prune the vines by the road so the place wouldn’t look like it had been abandoned. Then I remembered the apricots, and the next thing I knew, I was near the top of a ladder putting the finishing touches on a tree with a pair of long-handled shears. When I climbed back down, it was summer and I was in a park, trying to figure out how to prune the various trees and shrubs growing alongside a quiet residential street. Someone I couldn’t see said, “Maybe you should ask the doctor.” And I said, “What would the doctor know about pruning shrubs?” Then there arose the scent of dampness and mold, and I said, “Soon I will find the graves.”
I woke from this dream in the middle of the night and I thought I must write it down now, but I could not bear to revive the dream through the writing. I wanted to get back to sleep and escape the images that would not leave my mind.

We were in a room, a group of us. I was there with my daughters. We had been kidnapped at knifepoint. One had been taken aside. Our captors had chopped off her hands and feet and trussed her into a white shroud. She lay there like an amputated mummy, alive still, but silent. In the dream I noticed that there was no blood seeping from her open wounds and I wondered about her pain.

Two of our captors, the leaders, decided to leave us in the care of the others. They went off in search of food and slammed the door behind them. They had been careless. They left a rifle stretched out along a table. It reminded me of all the rifles I have seen in television movies since I was a child.

I knew what to do. Grab the rifle and point it outwards. Pull the trigger.

By the time I had it in my hands and had shoved it in the direction of one of my captors the trigger had gone off. The one in my sights did a sort of jog before landing on her feet. Somehow I had missed.

In a split second I had them all there at my attention. My captors were now my prisoners but in that same split second I realised there were no more bullets left in my rifle.

Did they know this? They seemed uncertain. They hesitated. They slunk back into their chairs.

I called to my off-sider, my daughter, to get hold of their guns. My off-sider, my baby daughter gathered them as I stood, my heart racing, and wondered when and if I would be yet again put to the test.

If I fired a shot would they see that I had no bullets left in my rifle, or was I mistaken? There were bullets: One tug on the trigger, followed by a loud blast, blood all over the walls and murder on my hands.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I am in a brightly lit white room with a few other people. One of them is a Gypsy man, maybe in his early 40s, who looks and feels very familiar to me - where do I know him from? First I'm speaking with someone else, but aware of his presence because he seems to be watching me. Them I'm suddenly speaking with him - how did that happen? I tell him that I, too, have Romani ancestry, through my birth father's lineage. Upon telling him this, it dawns on me that he IS one of my ancestors. A sudden glint in his eye tells me that he's aware of my recognition of who he is (as if he's been waiting for me to catch on). Now I'm aware that I'm dreaming. He holds up his right hand to give me a high five. As soon as our palms touch, he clasps my hand firmly in his, and I jolt awake.
Chris' 'healing hands' are successfully realigning people's backs. He realigns poets' backs, poets who I believe have lost their way, poets who I feel have hurt me. They all suffered serious back pain, but with a few deft adjustments, Chris fixes that. I make a joke that these poets should pay him homage--that Poet 1 should draw him as a statue with a very large penis and Poet 2 should give him a golden cow. Chris tells me he's a little tired. In addition to the poets, he also realigned 15 other people's backs during his walk on the beach this morning.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

I’m expected to announce the winners of the class election and post it on the blackboard. As I try to go over the names in my mind I know I won’t remember them, but I can’t take this seriously. I have an oversize cup of coffee that’s spilling and full of grounds. Some young kids show me the sink which is huge and cumbersome. When I turn around a fight has broken out between two boys, but then I realize it’s a play fight.

This is the best time of the day for writing and yet I feel I can’t use it. I fear I can’t use it because I have that empty disinterested feel that I sometimes get when everything that comes to mind seems trivial and scarcely worth writing about. This is the blank page syndrome. I suspect there are many who when confronted with the single page might wait and wait, might fiddle with words. This happened in my dream now as I come to think of it. I was at a meeting with university types, including Klaus N. Klaus was involved in talking about history and the past. At one stage I noticed a writing friend, working at her desk alone. On a sheet of paper I saw that she had written down seemingly random words. She then played with each word in turn, words like ‘loosely’. Something about the ‘oo’ letters led on to other words containing such letters.

I wish I could remember now the sense my friend made of her words because in the dream I knew she was working to create new ideas. I tried myself later in my dream to do something similar, but my ideas seemed prosaic. Somehow I was stuck at the surface of words, their sound, and their shape. I could not fathom deeper meanings no matter how hard I tried. The emotional tone in my dream was one of sadness; the left out experience that comes from not feeling as though you belong. Desperately I wanted to belong and to impress but it was not working and I sat at my desk trying to stretch meaning out of words that would not oblige me, while the other people, engaged in conversation, walked on by.

I had a bad dream. Very gory. Some kind of murder investigation. I was in a huge barn-like structure, dark wood, wide open rooms, barn-like floors. I was maybe four stories up. It was some kind of camp. There were cots lining the walls. And in the cots were the corpses of slain people, all young, in their early 20s, brutally murdered by being stabbed or cut. So many. Horribly sad. Then we found the person who had committed the murders: a young man, also in his early 20s. Before he could be arrested he threw a large black computer keypad into a swimming pool that was now somehow in the middle of the room. Then he jumped in. He electrocuted himself.