Tag Archives: dream

The Instructions


The Instructions

You unfolded the instructions like a bedsheet
And smoothed out the words with your palm.

First we identify all the parts, you said
To find the thing that’s missing. Or things.

It’s hardly ever just one thing.
The tools in the instructions, you pointed out,

We’d never seen before. Might have to make
Them out of scraps of other things we have.

Eventually that toolbox will have everything you need
but for now we just need a level and some sandpaper

So you can sand this grief to a shape that fits
the frame. Of what, I said. You read from the

Instructions: of that gap you fear so much.
If you look in that envelope included in the box

You’ll find the hinges of your life. You helped
Me sand and sand and mount the door

So oddly shaped and hear the bolt slide smooth
Like a finger through a ring.You folded the instructions

So the last line was all that showed and placed it
On my palm. What’s left, I said, the door is built.

You take your time, you said, and then walk through.

November hymnal (15) / November dream warning

November hymnal (15) / November dream warning

“Get ready for a mix of disappointments over
night! just after midnight some hard truth moves in

and stalls, followed by heavy accumulations
of regret, turning to desire before dawn.”

But I didn’t dream.
Instead strange birds surrounded the house

and told me how earlier a rainbow crashed
like a cold war satellite into the house next door

without a sound but the couple who live
there were playing folk music on a stage

ten miles long. They could walk from encore
to foyer in one step. We have both buried

dogs like best friends in our yards; we have
both practiced songs with windows open

and the birds squandered the pot of gold
with outlandish poker bets on the back porch

as black walnuts fell, never upsetting the game
or the oversized cards as big as pillows.

Poem to be read in the middle of the night (iii)

Poem to be read in the middle of the night


In the forest path dream where the light slashing through
leaves are words written too fast for me to read

And your spirit animal pauses, its white head shifting as if sniffing
the undergrowth and pulling the colors of the undergrowth into the air

I am the trunk of the blue tree, observing silently as you walk by,
grazed by your eyes like understanding is a wounding season

Still unaware the words in the air are poems I am writing
by the light that filters past me unabsorbed and I’m growing only

to be still, rooted deep at passage’s edge to the turning earth
beneath the whistling sun shuffling its days


-painting by Mary Winifred Hood Schwaner

The reporter’s dream

The reporter’s dream

You’re the reporter and you’ve just talked to people whose lives have been turned inside out, but neatly, like an envelope; they are still capable of holding things. Now you have to make sense of it all. Or do you? You fall asleep at your laptop despite the deadline and the coffee. In a dream you’re walking through a library of strange books, which rustle in the stacks as if a wind is moving through them. These are books whose stories are still being written. Sometimes whole chapters move, or rewrite themselves silently because the ink of the present is constantly bleeding through the pages to the earlier chapters, so that when you re-read a person’s past you find a minor character has disappeared, or assumed sudden importance. The covers, too, change over time. And the call numbers. You’re trying to be conscientious and place a book back in its proper place but the numbers keep changing on the piece of paper taped to the book’s spine. You get tired and there’s a place to lay down waiting for you. It’s hard but comfortable. And there’s a blanket, white and starched stiff, with the first three letters of your last name on it. You pull it over you and sleep.

Visible Space


Visible Space

On the sky press even the spaces must be set in metal
And sit above the text of dreams to print night’s pure black.

Sometimes that space like the space between us
Slips into the day and rises above the waking words

and becomes visible space. It ascends from the pull
of the moon and pushes forward like a panther,

Like a runner in a darkening wood who suddenly sees
The trees don’t block the path, they make the path.

October 11 [Book of October]

October 11

Two nights ago I dreamed of this day:
Sitting up in bed suddenly, eyes

On the clock reading 10:11, although
I had gone to bed after midnight–

Too dark to be mid-morning (and impossible
To sleep through a day in my home)

In my dream I lay back down and slept
Dreamless inside a dream of sleep

Walking through town the next afternoon
The dream came back to me

And I understood
10:11 was a date, not a time

So I waited
Until today but nothing happened

Still something arrived
Like the absence of a body in

A favorite t-shirt maybe that was
What the dream was about

In a Dream [from Vanishing Tracks]

In a Dream [from Vanishing Tracks]

In a dream I am in a car
racing backwards in slow motion
through a neighborhood being progressively
unbuilt, earth and foundation
appearing as shingles and windows fly away,
sod pulled up from red clay, native
shrubs waiting for the foundations to liquidize
and evaporate then moving back in,
and finally large rocks which we
never moved to make way for the houses
that were not built after all
and the road itself turns to gravel then dirt
undergrowth and pine needles rushing in,
and as the car itself begins to loosen
the sky darkens with shadows
coming towards me at the
speed of trees never cut down


[Another poem from from the series “Markers” and the book Vanishing Tracks.]

To a Reader of a Dream

To a Reader of a Dream

The unfocused object

makes the moonlight beautiful. It is not the other way.
I edge along the side of the dream like a raccoon

along the shadow of a house. To anyone passing
by or peering from a darkened window

I will look not unlike some masked fulfillment,
but then you would have to explain what you were

doing in my dream.

Humble Poem #1 [Garden Drive]

Humble Poem #1 [Garden Drive]


I’m grateful for this quiet night, and sleep
and waking from a dream of my children

in my childhood home they’ve never seen,
staying up late singing “Dance, Dance, Dance”

with their uncle my brother around the living room

Meaning of a Dream

Meaning of a Dream

Alone in the house, in my bedroom, turning to go. The door to the closet is shutting, though I hadn’t noticed it open, I cross the room and walk into it. The closet stretches out around the house, goes around the back of the fireplace up here on the second floor, continues on, and someone is walking with her back to me. Hey, I say. What are you doing here? Who are you? She continues as if a ghost who didn’t hear me. I speed up to a trot around another corner. The closet begins to look like the basement of my grandmother’s house. I used to run as a child in a thin alley between the wood paneled walls of the bar my grandfather and father built in one half of the basement and the concrete wall of the foundation, with its wires and water pipes and mousetraps, though it was just a ranch in those days it expanded with the adventurous mind, had strange back alleys like a little town. I cannot catch up, I raise my voice, Hey! Come back, who are you? At the same time I can hear an echo of my voice, but it’s not an echo, it’s an actual voice coming from a man asleep on his bed, sounding to my inner ear like a bleating sheep, even though I can still hear myself loud and clear and strident as I lose ground in the chase, and my wife begins coaxing me awake with some words I cannot quite hear, and then I’m pulled backwards and downwards, as if my being is slipping out of my head and filling up the space in my waking body. I sit up. In the dark I shuffle to my desk and turn on the lamp. I know what this dream means, I just need to write it down,  it’s about how the people and memories that inhabit your mind do not answer to you, they come and go in ways you cannot control, and whether it’s my mother’s vanished memory of our entire family history or my own memories or simple deciduous thoughts sprouting decoratively and cycling through their dream seasons I also know that this poem is how I’ll own it, exert some control over it in this part of my life bound to time and sleep, this is how I’ll remember not to take it personally that I’m not the one who owns this house, there’s some other me in another room who just saw this moment of his life walk by without so much as acknowledging him. When I wake up a few hours later I cannot read a word that I wrote, but I can follow the shape of it as it walks away on the page in the morning light and describe that.