dream sequence – part 65


To borrow from a classic Robyn Hitchcock album title, I often dream of trains. Recurring themes include waiting for a train that never arrives, missing the train, getting on the wrong train, or getting off at the wrong stop. In last night’s dream, the latter occurred, so I tried get off at the next stop and board the same train in the opposite direction. I wish I had a dollar for every time this happened in the ten years I spent commuting into and out of Boston. Given that my subconscious clearly wanted to have some fun with me, however, it wasn’t quite that easy.

For one, only a single car was able to exit at the platform. Fortunately I was riding on that car, but that’s where my good fortune ended. The station was dark and cramped, and when I exited to the street level, it was a muddy back alley that abutted a very active junkyard. There was no evidence of a subway entrance anywhere, but the first order of business was to avoid getting run over by speeding tow trucks.

When I got to what resembled a city street, I tried doubling back to where I thought a station entrance might be. The street was dark and deserted, the sounds of the junkyard fading away with each step. I turned toward a nondescript office building located where I surmised a subway station might be. Leaning against the lobby doors, I was surprised to find them unlocked. Walking into an well-lit hallway, I saw a sign that clearly read “elevator to subway”. Bingo!

Taking the elevator one floor down, I exited to find myself in the lobby of an upscale hotel in Naples, Florida. It was sunny out, and my wife was there. She was expecting me.

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haiku and politics


Haiku is a medium of observation, therefore by definition it is neutral in terms of politics. Its role is not to pontificate, but rather to record. In this sense, it’s a lot like photography: the act of capturing a static image without prejudice, and without an accompanying narrative.

And yet the camera and the haiku are in the hands of individual humans, each of whom possesses a world view and a sense of what is and isn’t worthy of recording. With spring threatening to visit New England any day now, I want to write about daffodils and the Red Sox, but I find myself unable to refrain from reacting to the omnipresent news. Before I’ve shaved in the morning, I’ve weighed in on (or incited) one or more Twitter wars. The overcast sky becomes a metaphor for a bleak future; and the dirty snow a prefab description of every corrupt politician in Washington. In short, I turn into a political haiku poet shortly after I wake up each morning.

Political haiku have a long history that parallels that of haiku itself. Matsuo Basho, commonly considered to be the first Japanese haiku master, wrote:

summer grasses
all that remains
of soldiers’ dreams

At first glance, this poem is a meditation on nature, but it quickly expands to become a commentary on the transience of humanity, hastened by war. Basho lived during the Edo period, a time marked by war and a feudal form of government. While the great master embarked on many journeys in his lifetime, searching for inspiration from nature, even he wasn’t able to escape the politics of his era.

Truth be told, I’d love to write about anything else, but the persistent 24-hour news cycle has become the proverbial gum on my shoe — unless I throw out the shoe, I end up tracking it everywhere. Sometimes I force myself to focus on a specific word prompt or diversionary subject matter (thank you, baseball season!), but I find that my most genuine observations flow from an immediate response to the world around me. If I can’t escape it, I’ll just have to document it.

today’s forecast —
a world
of mud

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dream sequence – part 64


I was visiting an old girlfriend, which I knew from the outset was probably a bad idea. I tried to keep our conversation light.

“Do you think you’re going to stay here in Pittsburgh?” I asked.

“Not if I can’t find an affordable apartment,” she replied. “Besides, there’s nothing tying me down here. I might as well move back to Albany.”

That’s where I was living. She had left to pursue another relationship, among other things, but the relationship had run its course, and those “other things” weren’t enough to keep her there. I decided that we needed to get out of the apartment.

We were on a bus, and she had morphed into my youngest brother, except that in my dream he was my youngest son’s age, nearly 30 years younger. He asked to borrow one of my guns. [As an editorial note, I have never owned a gun]

He fired two shots into the air and shouted, “I’m having a really hard time finding an affordable apartment in this city!”

The bus driver slammed on his brakes, pulled the bus over to the curb, turned off the engine and ran out the front door with the keys. We ran out too, covering several blocks at a rate that wouldn’t have been possible outside of a dream. I berated my brother throughout our escape.

“You’re going to get us arrested, or worse!”

We stopped in a large, cavernous college hall, where some sort of lecture was going on. We decided to sit in and catch our breath. No one seemed to notice or care.


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dream sequence – part 63


We had just purchased a new home — actually a big old one — and were making our initial walk-through before moving in. We weren’t alone. There were still people living in the house.

Finding the stragglers proved a bit problematic. We could hear voices, as well as a very vocal cat, but every time we entered a room we thought to be the source of the sound, we found it empty, while the noises persisted. We started to wonder if there was a secret room in the house with all walls but no doors. It was driving us crazy.

Outside, my father was weeding the garden — or at least trying to. I kept finding dandelions where he had supposedly already weeded, so I followed behind him pulling up one he had missed.

He wasn’t happy. “I already did that spot,” he said. Not wishing to argue, I said “This one must have been hiding from you.”

When I woke up, neither the dandelions nor our unwelcome house guests had been completely weeded out.

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dream sequence – part 62


I own a 2008 Toyota RAV4 that is decidedly old-school compared to my wife’s 2015 Jeep Renegade. When one of my tires is low on air, an amber light turns on next to the speedometer. It’s up to me to figure out which tire has the problem and to address it — or, as I more commonly do — ignore it until I’m tired of looking at the light.

The Renegade has a relatively sophisticated console that allows the driver to navigate between multiple screens, one of which shows air pressure for each individual tire. It sure beats trying to use a manual oil pressure gauge on a cold winter day, but I can’t help thinking that it might be more useful to keep my eyes on the road.

In my dream, a co-worker heard my grumbles of indignation and revealed the solution to my dilemma: a smart phone app that somehow measures the air pressure of a tire when held next to it. Never mind that this was utterly preposterous — it was a dream! Moving from the impossible to the ridiculous, the app also measured the gas tank level when held next to the gas cap. Not recommended while actually driving, when one can simply read the gas gauge.

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nowhere to go


I blog a lot about my dreams. I don’t do this to gain insight into my subconscious — as if it were trying to send me important messages from some Central Command — but rather as an opportunity to explore writing in prose. As dreams are often fragments, it’s difficult to find some sort of narrative to follow. If there’s a thread that binds the fragments together, I can remember them long enough to capture it all in writing. Hence my many “dream sequence” posts.

I remember dreams in bursts that last a few days, and then I can go for days or weeks without remembering so much as a fleeting image or sentence fragment. I’m in a bit of a dry spell these days, sleeping like a rock but without a dream to show for it. I attribute the change to an adjustment to work life after a glorious 8 days of vacation. Relaxation can wreak havoc with one’s natural tendency toward stress, one of my favorite dream triggers. Eliminate the stress — even for a little while — and the subconscious runs out of raw material.

So I’m daydreaming instead, staring at a tidal pool long enough to see an oasis.

silent snow
secret snow —
when dreams elude me

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dream sequence – part 61

Birth of Venus (detail)

It was good to see her back in the office again. She had been nominated to a cabinet-level position in the new government, only to have her candidacy derailed by a scandal.

The scandal was literally old news: a grainy photo of a much younger woman, posing provocatively on a hotel bed with her top off. The big hair, big glasses and makeup screamed “eighties”, but there she was, trending all over the internet of 2017.

The president initially refused to let her withdraw from consideration, but once she made up her mind, she boarded a one-way flight back to Boston.

“I’m glad you’re back”, I said. “I know it’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride for you.”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” she said curtly. I walked away, embarrassed.

About an hour later, she came back to apologize. “I didn’t mean to be so bitchy. It has been a roller coaster ride, to put it mildly, but I’m also glad to be back.”

I thanked her, but also told her that she really didn’t need to apologize.

“To be perfectly honest,” she added, “I’m relieved.”

“Me too,” I said. She smiled, lingered for a moment, and then walked away.

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