Do you ever dream of writing? I mean, quite literally, dreams of writing, not writing as a goal. The first one I had was in my early twenties and I was in such a hurry that I forgot to write it down. I was keeping a dream journal then but I was so rushed to get out the door and to my job that I didn’t write down the poem that came to me in a dream. It was about Alice in Wonderland and was a complete twist on it, and it was good, too. I don’t receive many poems in dreams but I do have a lot of dreams that become poems. Case in point, yesterday morning I woke up having dreamt of going to a concert for a group I enjoy but my dream was in a post-apocalyptic future (I have many post-apocalyptic dreams) where only one of the members of the group survived. It was a very solemn and sad dream, which makes me wonder what my subconscious was trying to tell me. I didn’t wake up sad though. In fact, I got up and, since we were iced in yesterday, I got quite a bit of housecleaning accomplished. Bored kids, seriously bored kids, will do anything to be able to do anything but clean later on. I know that may not make any kind of sense, but trust me, they will clean up just so they can play on their video games/computers so they don’t have to clean later. The downstairs was cleaned up rather quickly which gave me a little bit of extra time.
What I chose to do with my free time was to come upstairs and look at the next exercise in The Practice of Poetry. It’s about keeping a dream journal and doing it over a period of two to three weeks or longer.You write down anything you can remember, no matter how bizarre, even if it’s not linear or rational. It’s not meant for you to psychoanalyze. What they want you to begin to see are the gaps, the ‘ellipses,’ in your dreams-the subtle shifts between dream states and the characters and chronology of of your dreams. It’s an exercise in seeing how your unconscious mind free-associates. Like the conscious mind translation exercise I showed you last week, this would be an exercise in subconscious translation.
I took it in a different step and began to try and write out what I saw in my dream. But that’s not where the poem took me. It took me to a completely new level I hadn’t dreamt of. Hope you like it.
Try seeing what your dreams tell you and using that for inspiration.
By Jessica Scott
Sitting in the crushed velvet seat,
the musty smell of old costumes, stale popcorn, and too much perfume
assaults my nose and
I watch as others find their spot in the crowded theater,
the sticky flooring grabbing hold of the soles of shoes.
The orchestra warms up, a grand confusion of melody,
while I wait and watch.
La grande dame in red approaches from the side
Stepping on my toes as I stand and let her pass.
“Sorry,” she says and I smile, “It’s alright.”
It’s not her fault the rows are so tightly placed one behind another,
but my throbbing toes still say indecent things to each other.
Then the lights dim and I wait with bated breath
as le chanteur appears, bowing and welcoming us
to the concert of our lives,
or maybe it’s the concert of his, for he gives us
an outstanding performance and then collapses onstage.
The curtains close, the lights go off,
and we leave the theater in whispers and tears.