Waking on the cusp of clarity I clamour
to catch receding images,
following the trail back to the entrails.
walls splattered with rusty shapes
that smell metallic, battened-down cells
where good and evil creatures scream,
baying for release.
I smash through timber walls
making gaps through which puppies crawl,
splintering ceilings that rain crumbs and flakes,
flinching as shape-shifting grotesques fall,
freeing beasts and all
in my quest to release the innocents.
Dogs frolic, begging rubbed tummies,
gnashing teeth set in fools and demons faces
fix false, cheating grins,
scampering to hide behind close-knit hills,
where they simper,
giggling into their sleeves.
I think: although limited,
there has been a victory.
While puppies sleep and mad dogs creep
I forge forward,
banging heads with faceless strangers
who might be foes or friends,
letting them plot the next step
while I hope for the best.
I sense wickedness,
the tang of a plan to rob a bank,
yet like a shy child, I ask no questions,
instead running with the gang.
Vacating the cracked castle
we part ways, while I memorise my instructions,
but I don’t understand the details
or the intended result.
Out in the street, the town floods,
water rising from an invisible place;
I suspect a connection to our game.
I’m thinking my finger has been dipped in fowl play
when a police constable
lifts me safely over the tide
to a leafy glade, that leads me
toward the first door
and with a friendly wave,
I wait while footsteps fade,
clutch the handle, smirking as it turns,
wondering at the trust of bland key-holders;
do they think the door
is too hidden for me to see?
A corridor leads to more
I creep through empty rooms
to one containing chairs,
a table, a litter of toys.
I pause, a query tasted on my lips, but dismissed
as I go through the next door.
Like a dream within a dream
my first-born daughter is beside me.
Now each succeeding room is scattered
with trinkets and symbolic artefacts,
so silently, arriving singly,
each member of my family joins me;
all of my descendants
save my son.
a cramped space ravaged by the stains of age,
to find myself alone again.
No door before me.
Behind me, the entrance
Pushing against ungiving walls,
fingernails scrabbling in trickster cracks.
Fear, breaking through my skin,
soaking my clothes.
Make no noise
lest the enemy is near.
Don’t panic, don’t curl in a corner.
Escape. Make no noise.
Smother the fear.
Pull out my phone,
call a friend.
The wind picks up at the other end.
“All will be well,”
I press the surface of a recess
too narrow to fit a door, and feel it give,
no more than a deceptive sheet of paper,
I rip it aside to reveal
a day-lit room, plush with sofas,
footstools, cushions. Voices trill nearby,
accompanied by the clink of dining.
Like a novice burglar, I shrink, nervous
to think I have broken into a private home,
but my son,
my son, my last-born, troubled child,
my son, my first-born man,
appears beside me.
“It’s OK, this is a hotel,” he tells me.
He shows the way through French windows onto a veranda
which skirts a calm sea,
where the rest of my family wait for me
Behind gleaming glass,
the diners raise their toast and applaud.
Fresh blood sings in my veins
to the rhythm of the waves
that caress the shushing sands of the shore.
I throw my store of hopes and fears to the horizon;
I cannot control its changes,
and I gaze into my children’s eyes
where this moment of safety lies.
I should offer a medal to the determined souls who managed to read to the end of my dream.
Floods, crumbling buildings, empty rooms, childhood mementoes and being trapped and in danger are all recurring themes in my dreams.
A lot of my dreams make immediate sense to me, being clearly marked ‘insecurity’, while others are a jumble. I half-understood last night’s dream, and built a poem around it to give me more clarity. It told me no more than I already know about the difficulties I’ve experienced in life, and of my opposing feelings of invincibility and weakness, of the power of my muscle and its inevitable collapse, of my confidence and my paranoia.
I can’t resist this – it goes back to the days when British record producers were little tin Gods, and many UK musicians had to bow down to them, rather than choosing their own theme and style. Those who wished to be a bit more raunchy had their knuckles rapped, and smoochy ballads thrust into their hands.
aww… such a sweet boy…
©Jane Paterson Basil