One month to the day
is when I finally dream of him alive
not counting half-awake forgetfulness
I should tell Dad about
We are both in hospital sharing a room
perhaps it is another accident
my reasons are vague, the mild, hopeful complaints
of hospital dramas where the patient goes home
And I cannot remember our conversations
In the dream, I can’t remember how I got there
which sounds like something serious, actually
Dad and I actually talked, five or six weeks ago
about how tired he was of the hospital
I recalled my own stay, the connection
even I knew was limited – but all I could offer
I almost got away with it. He grinned
“but you were getting better.”
He didn’t know what kind of body to expect
he just hoped for legs that worked.
And it’s only when I wake up
that I remember Dad is gone
from the hospital for good
Dad is gone for good.
…Ranks of books
On the sides — old Miltons, Tolstoys, Wuthering
Heights, Ackermann’s Oxford. A holograph
Copy of Keats’s “To Autumn”…
— from The Dream of a House, Reynolds Price
I find myself in medias res
as one always does in dreams
in a small office, such as
an associate professor
at a branch campus
like the one I attended
In real life I have
a home office
my office at my company’s office
an office under construction at a new location
an office I can borrow at my company’s main office
and the use of a co-working space downtown
So it’s not surprising that I’ve forgotten about this one
since it doesn’t really exist
but still I kick myself for having done so
and wonder why I rented the co-working space
which really does exist
and what would have happened
to all these books, every single one of them
a Penguin edition, bearing an orange and white spine,
had I not remembered them, or this wonderful view,
this forest outside a picture window.
Still dreaming, but starting to suspect,
I think of Reynolds Price’s poem
The Dream of a House
and compare my middlebrow taste in dream books.
But the principal motivation remains,
the recurring theme in these many
fugues of the subconscious
This is yours, understand. Meant for you.
I wake before being taken to the closet.
I washed up from sleep with it,
tears in my eyes.
Something about my children,
about wasted time (I have never been away from them)
about regret (nothing on the day)
about loss (they all slept peacefully in the same house).
I asked what my dreams accused me of,
they crept back into forgetfulness,
having won their point.
So – another dream. Always a theme
of a plot of a moral, always something
that comes up from the ooze with me,
the MacGuffin in the comic book stories,
the dripping knife the wife holds
behind her back, just when you thought it was safe.
I’m on a skyscraper floor
(town I live in only has one 20-story building)
attending to one of my consistent dream themes
I have to pee
looking around the corner of the huge men’s room
the row of stalls is dark I find the light
A man is hanging by the neck in one of them
the logistics of setting up a noose
from an acoustical tile ceiling
are outside the scope of this dream
I am trying to scream
(ever notice in dreams you can never
quite do anything?)
This is now definitely the Mad Men episode
the one where that guy kills himself
except that was in an office
And then he blinks
A woman and I
(is this a co-ed restroom?
Did I succeed in screaming?)
get him down
he offers me money trying
to stuff mine in my shirt pocket
the woman is likewise refusing.
I assure him we won’t tell anyone
(is that a good idea?)
salvage his pride about refusing
with a made-up tradition
that when you find a suicide
you give him the money you have on you
so he has saved me money
by being alive.
My primordial mind has transposed you
with my father’s preacher friend
who died about ten years younger than you
on a bike, wearing no helmet
so it eventually dawns on me that the
helmets, ranging from an ’80s Vetta Italy
to a Giro Prolight with the Roc Loc retention system
and the Shimano cycling shoes, with Look-compatible cleats
(with the patented 9 degrees of float)
are yours; I think (I am very close to waking)
of the short story Content of the Dead Man’s Pockets
by Jack Finney, and I think that your pockets
are garages, the fourth bedroom,
and perhaps the third.
I find the thing that is really you:
a Sony Beta BMC-100 video recorder.
I gaze at the quality of the casing and controls;
I try to connect the recorder to anything I own
anything that will play something
that only outputs on a three RCA plug composite video connection
wanting to see something about your last days,
since I missed them
but of course the massive video cassette is full of you,
younger than me
recording your kid’s baptism, a niece’s wedding,
and a high school band concert by your son,
now a USAF general.
I try to imagine you from the camera’s perspective;
safely inside the excluded 270 degrees
the occasional shake
and the loud laugh.
Often after a trauma
there is the mundane revery
if I could only
mine was a dream of an unbearable tartness
in a drink of volcanic coldness
I sipped metallic hospital crushed ice water
tried not to vomit up the simplest of soups
normally there is the gift of not desiring
the smell of nausea clings to things
that can’t be kept down but
I conjured up something like limeade
as a nuclear bomb is something like a firecracker
while the tubes of lukewarm glucose, morphine
and hot piss kept me alive.
written in response to a dVerse prompt
She woke up choking on it
the seed still stuck in her throat
hungover from drugged sleep
and a dream of seven mad kings.
An apple martini, a song beat cue,
everything leading to a man.
She found her dress on the floor
and her purse missing $20
but the keys intact.
From a dverse prompt
as to why I haven’t been doing it
I begin to wonder if I can walk again.
The details come back to me in retrospect:
an accident, perhaps a wheelchair,
perhaps an eternal afternoon on a couch.
But I can stand,
I reason to myself, and
the memory is equally clear
standing up to shave, or speak.
The mundane reality of the afterworld,
of life after the thing that happened.
When I was in the hospital I dreamed simply
of walking, waking to find myself on fire
with pain, tied down with tubes.
I wake needing to urinate.
I stumble to the bathroom
before realizing the mundane reality.
The deepest dream is of mad governors,
Down, down we feel it, till the very crust
Of the world cracks, and where there was no dust,
Atoms of ruin rise.
– The Deepest Dream – Mark Van Doren (1894-1972)
He appears, inexplicably,
on a panel talking about the death of JFK,
the day after, late in life, surely years after
he wrote The Deepest Dream.
He doesn’t say much. Unlike his son,
not given the answers, he doesn’t
wind on like the others, doesn’t speak at all
until late in the program, and then
speaks mainly of the past.
But then later, coming to this:
Whoever did this…
defeated his own end more completely
than one can say.
But then, he is still speaking
of the past, of Brutus and Cassius,
of Lincoln. Perhaps thinking
of the early church.
The camera pans the eminent men:
the worldly philosopher
and seems as dazed as they seem
in the wake of the few lucid words
that anyone can say.