This project began in February 2000 and ended-- in its first phase, anyway-- 3/17/02. During that time I recorded most of the dreams I had and could remember. They are listed here in reverse chronology. The project ended not by design but because I quit having or remembering dreams.
On 3-16-08 I decided to restart the project and created a second page, here.
The phone rings and wakes both of us. I sit up in bed--it is just starting to get light--and wait for the next ring, but it never comes. This makes both of us quite nervous. We talk about it in cautious whispers. Is someone in the house? Did it come from the neighbor's? Finally I get up and go to the front room to have a look. I look out off the balcony into the driveway and see a small elephant cavorting there. It looks this way and that and dances around impishly, like a kitten. Then I notice men hiding in the bushes and behind cars and fences, moving forward cautiously, trying to surround it. The elephant is fully aware of them and playfully defiant. One of them rushes up behind and grabs it by the tail and the elephant starts running and trumpeting, dragging the man behind like a skier. The rest of the men come out of hiding and wave their hats and whoop and holler. The skier loses his grip and the elephant trots off down the street.
Somehow a truck has come to our rescue. It has a generator with wall outlets in the cab, where I plug in my extension cord.
At my mother's house, I am "playing" in the yard as if I were a kid. I go and sit in an old car body that is nearby. I notice, in the back seat, a caterpillar that I am afraid might be of a stinging variety. I think I want to kill it, but am afraid to handle it. I think that I could possibly find an insect that would kill it for me and I look around the car. I don't really see one, but I do see a suspicious looking rolled-up leaf on the floor. The leaf is rolled too perfectly, as if it had been done on purpose, and it occurs to me an insect might be hiding in it.
I look closer at the leaf, and sure enough I do discern a brown head just protruding from one end. With a little stick, I prod the leaf until I have discharged the animal from it. I am no longer sure the animal is even an insect. It is rather large, about the size of an egg, covered with short brown hair. As I observe it, manipulate it, pay more attention, it seems to grow larger. I finally decide that it must be some sort of small mammal.
I notice a spot of red on its neck and attempt to look closer, but I am afraid to touch it; though it is sluggish and seemingly half asleep, I can imagine mouse-like biting capabilities. I realize with some surprise that the red spot is something artificial, a label. I try to prod the animal over so I can get a better view and it suddenly gets up and turns to face me.
It is now the size of small cat, and cat or ferret -like in appearance, though it is precisely neither of these. The "label" I had seen is now the size of a postcard. It is not a collar but something attached surgically or somehow grafted to the animal's skin under the throat. The label is divided into a grid of 6 rectangles. One of the blocks declares the animal the property of the US Postal Service. Others are incomprehensible or contain only barcodes. The last contains contact info in case this apparent courier becomes lost: "email LAIL."
At this point I hear a car pulling into the driveway, and realize it is my sister arriving to take me and my mother to church. A feeling of sinking disappointment comes over me at the thought I must now hurry to get ready to go with them. On second thought I glance at my watch; it says 8:50. There is still plenty of time.
In a large building like a school or hotel, where something like school or a convention is going on. I am walking through the hallways and come to one long straight hall that inclines steeply, seeming to become almost vertical in the distance. Someone walks past me and I ask them about the steepness. This person says that yes, it slopes a little, but it's no big deal, and then proceeds up the slope with apparent ease. I attempt to follow, but after two or three steps I slide back to the starting point on the slickly waxed floor. I try again with the same result. Someone else comes by and walks easily up. Someone else tells me I might want to take off my shoes. I take off my sandals and manage with some difficulty to get to the top.
There people are sitting in the hallway, which has been darkened, because someone is showing a movie in a classroom and the room is packed, the crowd spilling into the hall. One of the people in the hall points to my sandals in my hand. When I look at them I see that the soles are covered with coins, silver coins of various strange and foreign denominations. They seem to be stuck to the soles with chewing gum or glue.
There are three of us: my father, another older man, and myself. We are climbing out of a basement, mounting steep stairs, finally emerging through a wide cellar door into the daylight. I come out first, then my father, but then I look back and see the old man is too decrepit to climb the last steep little way. What we have emerged from is actually a paint can. Down in the one gallon can is the old man, girding his loins to climb the last little bit out. As I watch him, he begins to transform. He is shrinking and also losing his shape and stripping down. He continues until he is about 6 inches tall, a kind of fleshy stick figure, about the size of a hand. He crawls out of the can and my father picks him up by his head and begins shaking him, the way one would shake a folded handkerchief to unfurl it. The old man begins to expand again, His legs lengthen, and then his arms. As his limbs come out they are flashing bright pink and purple, with glowing blue veins. Gradually they return to his tan flesh color. A dog comes up and begins licking him. My father, still holding the old man by his head, puts him out for the dog to lick more easily. And my father talks to the dog in soft tones, saying "old... old."
I, my ex, and my current, are at a sort of vast amusement park. We get on a "ride," which is rather like a large wooden cross on its side. We straddle it and I hold to the upright cross member. The cross begins, mysteriously, to move. It accelerates and proceeds up the side of a mountain, rather like a funicular, but levitating, without contact with any sort of track. At first I think it is entirely out of my control, but gradually learn that I can control speed and direction through a sort of telepathy.
At the top of the slope we glide into a building that is rather like a funicular depot, but we keep going deep into the building, which begins to look like some sort of public place, like a classroom building in an old university, and we are riding down the hallway on our cross. The hallway is not only peopled, but very crowded. We bump into people and they complain, or else they get out of our way in the nick of time. Sometimes the cross bumps into open doors and closes them.
I try to concentrate, to get the cross under control, and eventually I succeed in turning it around and navigating back out of the building. I'm getting the hang of it now and am able to guide the cross back to the bottom of the mountain with no trouble.
Later, on this same mountainside, I climb a set of steep crooked stairs into a tree house. This is a tiny structure at the very top of the trees. It has apparently been used as a storage place for some amusement park prizes or sale items. All around, actually laid out on the top branches of the trees, are little roofs, like the roofs of bird-houses. Some are made of painted wood and some are plaster. They appear to have been laid out up here to dry. I also discover some curious looking dolls that seem to have been formed of clear, sticky silicon.
I go back down the stairs and find myself in a sort of cellar where even more of this merchandise is stored. A woman is digging through the heaps of stuff, apparently getting what she needs for her part of the operation. She has taken from the heap a baby carriage with a live baby in it. We talk for a moment, shop talk, like we both work there.
"Carriage job,eh?" I say.
"Yeah," she replies, "rich bitch from the city wants to be a mom for the day, so I gotta go down there and be the 'nurse.'"
Then I am in the car with my aged mother. She is driving, and I am worried about this and ask here where she is going. She says she's just looking for the quickest way home. We're driving in a steep, crooked trail of mountain roads. Finally she parks and we get out and walk. We pass more of the amusement park, strange rides and exhibits, like a boat ride on the side of the steep hill, the boats chained to the shore with the water rushing under them. We come to a building from which I can hear a band playing "Up On Cripple Creek." We are backstage with the roadies and hangers on, trying to thread through the crowd and out the other side. Suddenly I notice my mother is no longer with me and begin to panic. I open a door and see her being helped up the stairs by one of the roadies. He is handling her rather roughly, jerking her up from step to step, and she is crying and begging him to stop. I go down and tell him thanks anyway but I will take her from here.
I am at a party, quite a large and rowdy one. I'm standing up in a crowd telling a story, having fun. My friend R., a mystical sort, comes up and stands beside me. As I speak, he rubs my head, as some are wont to do, savoring its stubble. But then he quickly pulls from his pocket a pair of cordless clippers and begins cutting. I stop talking and try to stand perfectly still to accommodate him. I'm surprised to see hair falling around me quite liberally. Then he stops and indicates a mirror. I look and find that I have hair again, quite a lot, in fact, bushing over the ears and in a long queue coming off the top. He has shaved my head to the top of the ears, a bowl cut.
I dream I am playing basketball, as if it were the most normal thing in the world.
We are coming home after a long journey and are stuck in a little village. Just by chance, it seems, we get on a bus bound for home. The bus is quite large, rather like an airport shuttle bus, tall and wide, with windows that open fully. We sit on the carpeted floor. It is quite comfortable even though very crowded. The crowd is raucous; some of them are dancing. There is music playing, etc.
At one point we stop and I make my way to a window to see what the problem is. We are, it seems, meeting another, identical bus, on a narrow, European style street. When that bus passes by, the passengers are inches from my face. We start moving again on the little winding street, and I see the front of the bus going around a corner above us. I see that the driver is standing up and guiding the bus with one hand while he dances with the crowd.
As we near home I am thinking where I left my motorcycle before we left. Did I leave it at the train station? Surely I wouldn't do something like that. But I can't remember where I left it so we just have the bus drop us off at home.
C. is there, and he tells us the cat is ok but we have inherited, somehow, a couple of new kittens. These kittens are very strange, long haired, white with red tiger-stripes. One of them is the size of a six week old kitten. The other is the size of my thumbnail. I pick it up and it frolics in the palm of my hand.
I ask C. if he has seen my motorcycle parked anywhere and he and N. laugh. She has already told him that I will be asking about it because I can't remember where I left it. He chuckles and says, "sleep is a good thing."
I go outside and find a massive water leak in the back yard. I say to myself that I must call the landlord to fix it. Then I begin to worry that the asshole landlord might evict us. Then I remember that I own this house and there is a feeling of vast relief and safety. But then I am unsure; I can't remember if we own the house or only rent it.
I go to the front and find the cat in the basement area (the house is raised, with a sort of patio under it). I'm concerned because the cat can run right out to the street, and there doesn't seem to be any way to prevent it, the big, garage-style, door, having been blocked from closing by a chunk of concrete. In the back of the basement I see my father sitting in a chaise lounge, among the banana trees and greenery. I call him and he comes over. I ask him to keep an eye on the cat and not let her out.
He says, "Well, it doesn't snow here..."
I tell him it's not the snow but the traffic and dogs that I'm afraid of.
He walks outside, looks around, says, "If it snowed here, I could understand, but this..."
Just then two people come up to us. They are distant relatives that my father recognizes but I don't. He asks me if I remember my great uncle and his daughter, and I say of course and shake his hand and say hi to the daughter.
They seem to have come to admire the house. "Very spacious," he says, as he shakes my hand. His face is afflicted with some sort of disease or old age; it is a mosaic of small tiles, like gravel. His daughter says hello to me and then says "Oh don't look at me I'm horrible today." And indeed she is; the skin of her face hangs in tatters, exposing the mosaics beneath.
Two young men, lawyers, walking across the University of Arkansas campus:
"I tell you, a will is absolutely necessary. Even in cases where the divorce is uncontested, every little detail must be argued in court. Every penny must be justified. I'm handling one now and it's killing me. It just plods on and on."
Having heard this, I have my will made. But there is a sub-plot: I'll use the will to cheat death. I formulate a plan whereby, through the text of the will, I'll be my own heir.
I go home to die, anxious to get on with it. My house is very modern, with a solid glass door like a commercial building. The will is folded into thirds and stored in a leather case, like a jewelry box. I want to leave it where it will be sure to be found, so I use it to prop open the front door.
I am at some sort of party or dinner affair, in a foreign country. I decide that I need to go back to the hotel to change clothes, and so I set off walking, but for some reason leave the clothes I'm wearing and walk away in only a bathing suit. The way is rugged, leading over a small mountain. After a bit it becomes so rugged I realize I'm dreaming; I am moving along a peak so sharp I have to straddle it to move along. I realize I'm dreaming with a sense of desperation, decide the dream itself is more trouble than it is worth, and climb off of the peak. I stand in a little clearing and demand, vocally, of the dream that it reveal to me its secret. Still, I am not 100% sure, so I jump around and shout to make sure I am not in reality. As I become more and more convinced I am indeed dreaming, I feel terror rising, and I shout more loudly because of it. Then I hear someone answer my shout. I run towards the sound, thinking that there will be the answer. I both want and fear the approach to the climax of the dream. What I find there is a mountain hut with an old couple sitting outside, poking at a fire. I run up to them breathless and yell "What? What is it?" They stare at me as if I am speaking a foreign language. When I yell I feel the actual sounds in my throat. I wake up yelling.
Every time anyone speaks a noun, the noun's object appears above their head in a balloon. Someone says "dancer" and a life-sized Fred Astaire type dances in the air. Someone says "France" and a map of France, superimposed with images of Paris and the countryside, appears. Someone says "hammer" and a variety of different types of hammers are displayed.
I am working on a typesetting or book production job with two Japanese fellows. At one point this involves lifting an enormous template, something like a stair stringer, onto sheets of paper spread on a table to be marked for cutting.
Later I am working on typesetting proper. The text is substantial, about 400 pages, and fantastically complicated. The page I am working on has 4 or 5 layers of background and/or text, with each one having size gradations.
I drive up to a house in a poor neighborhood and knock and walk in. Inside is a large family, several adults and kids sitting around. One of the women is feeding an animal in a high chair at the table. I go over to look at it. It is human shaped, like a monkey, and sits erect in the chair, but it is covered with gray fur striped with red and has a triangular face. It looks at me with big friendly eyes. "What is it?" I say. "What are you?" it replies. Then I realize it is not an animal but some sort of "special" child. The child and I talk for a few minutes and I realize he has special powers. The woman beside him at the table is whispering to me "let go" all the time I am talking to him. The child tells me he has a gift for letting people be who they want to be. Suddenly I feel like lying down and do, right on their floor. I lay there for a several minutes and the family walks around and over me. When I get up the child is gone and I go out in the back yard to say goodbye to him. He is playing with some other kids among the junk in the yard. They are playing in the rusty water by an old washing machine. Now he looks like a normal kid, so much so I barely recognize him. I say bye and go.
When I get back to my truck I notice the hood is popped. I get out thinking the battery has been stolen and find that not only the battery but half the engine is missing. I stomp around and cuss for a while and some women walk by. I show them the damage and then I start to unload the truck in preparation of pushing it to a garage. The women help me without a word. For some reason the truck is loaded with containers labeled"hazardous material" and they seem to be full of old paint. The women carry them and put them over the fence into the yard but I'm afraid they'll be hurt by the chemicals and say "That's ok just leave them by the curb."
One wall of the kitchen is shiny black, like formica or obsidian. I can see my reflection in it and also the reflection of a man in a red flannel shirt. Since his original is not in the room with me, this frightens me terribly.
There is a small room through an opening in this wall; its floor is perhaps three feet lower than the kitchen's. There is a ramp of plywood covered with a quilt going down to it, and at the bottom my cat has her bed. She is lying there with two other cats, one a "teenage" kitten and one much smaller. The larger kitten is gray and fat, resembling a panda bear more than a cat, really. The smaller one is white.
I sit on the floor and the smaller one comes up the ramp to me and climbs into my lap. I notice that it has a human head and then I begin to treat it like a human baby. I am not disturbed by its hybrid nature, but I am troubled by the deformed appearance of its face: the eyes are tiny, set inside large fleshy protuberances, and the pupils are vertical, cat style.
I wake up and begin to tell Nance about this dream. I am groggy and can barely move my mouth to talk. The cat is on the bed on her side and suddenly bounds over both of us and runs to the back door to look out, as if she had caught a whiff of a dog or cat passing by. As she bounds over us her shape is human, a sort of spritely, peter-panish girl in tights, and it is this girl who crouches at the screen door and peers out.
At this point Nance shakes me awake because I have been twitching and moaning, and I tell her about both dreams, this time for real.
I am driving home after work and am lost in thought about something pressing at work. I suddenly realize I have been so engrossed I lost track of the road and I am driving on a strange highway miles from town. It is a beach road, steep and crooked, rather like the beach road in Croatia. Up ahead there has been a landslide and the road is closed. I have to slam on the brakes and this worries me because there is snow on the road, but I manage to stop and turn around.
As I start off again, and I push the accelerator pedal to the floor because I am climbing a steep hill, suddenly everything goes dark. I come to consciousness of being in a room and driving via remote interface. What has happened is the screen on my laptop computer has gone dark so I can no longer see the road. I slap the screen a couple of times. A dim, negative image of the road flying by fades in and out on the screen, and I start madly pushing F keys in a panic to find the one that is the brake, before I crash. The keys don't work, though, and it occurs to me to simply use the brake pedal, which is under my foot. I bring the car to a stop with the brake pedal, and marvel that I managed to do it without crashing.
At this point I begin to suspect I'm dreaming. I test the reality of things around me by yelling and touching them. I become more and more convinced. It makes me angry. I slam my fist down on the table in rage, and I do this again and again until I start to wake up. As if from a million miles away I gradually come to consciousness of my inert body in the bed.
I'm at some sort of convention helping set up a stage. The curtain is open and there are several people on the stage moving sets around and setting up mikes, etc. I am talking to one of them saying what a great stage it is, how good the lighting is, and how good the audience seating is. Then I look out at the audience seating through the spotlights and realize the auditorium is full. I walk up to the mike and ask, ostensibly in testing the mike, if I should read a poem. The audience cheers, so I go backstage to get a poem out of my pack.
When I get back with the poem, I can't get to the mike because they are moving equipment around on stage with a fork lift. The main pieces are three sarcophagi. The show begins, now. It is some sor t of a multi-media martial arts show, in which the performers begin by coming out of these sarcophagi.
Later I am wheeling around someone in a wheelchair who is complaining about not seeing any excitement at the show. I wheel him, in response, into the street and aim him down a hill. I ski behind the chair as it picks up speed, then turn into a loading dock behind the hotel. I leave him watching cranes load the sarcophagi from the show onto trucks.
I take a shortcut along one of the hotel's balconies. When it ends I have to open a door, and it turns out to be the room of someone I know. He says rooms are hard to come by and he's holding on to his, even though lots of people come through it like this. He calls his daughter and we go out the balcony and slide down a roof to the next level. I can't remember if the girl is his daughter or his wife, and even though she is about 30 years old, she acts like a small child.
I am in a strange house, spending the night. I'm walking in the dark trying to find my bed. I don't know the house very well so am starting to freak out a little bit. Then it occurs to me that I might be only dreaming. I try a couple of tests. I wave my arms around, jump up and down, try to measure the level of difficulty of these physical actions. If they are too easy, I will know that I'm dreaming. It is too easy; after jumping up and down in the dark and flailing my arms about for a few minutes, I realize I'm not winded at all. I grow afraid and want to wake up. In order to wake up I know I must force out a sound. Not a dream sound but a real one. It must come from the body and the body is outside the dark house where I am. By a sort of telekinesis I have to move the body to make the sound. The effort is enormous but finally I manage. I feel my real vocal chords groaning and then suddenly the immense weight of my real body, as if I were waking up on Jupiter. The noise of my voice awakens me. Gradually the great weight fades and I can move again.
When I walk into the great building there is a crowd gathered in the lobby looking at some sort of bulletin board. Someone asks me how long I have lived in this building. I have to think about it, and when I do I remember the stairwells and hallways and wide open rooms and tiny closets, story after story, parts of it newly renovated parts old and fading, almost like there were old houses inside this skyscraper. "18 years, " I tell him.
The crowd has gathered because the building has recently been bought by Arabs and they are concerned about its fate. All around the lobby are signs in Arabic (or in some language incomprehensible to me, at any rate). On the wall in front of us are three city maps arranged to form a triangle. These maps are arranged with North to the left. One is a map of New Orleans, one of Austin, and third I do not recognize but understand it is a map of the city we are in.
I leave there and am walking through the city with a bouquet of flowers. The bouquet is huge, the size of a small christmas tree, and I am carrying it by the stems, blossoms down. It is very unwieldy and I am looking around for a place to set it down. I go into a small restaurant and go to the counter. The waiter and waitress behind the counter immediately see my problem and they clear space on the counter for the bouquet. I lay it there with some difficulty. Even with the cleared space some of the customers are forced to move out of its way.
I look around but of course do not see a vase large enough to handle this bouquet, so I take a plastic cup and begin to work on it with a knife, somehow to improvise a sort of holder for the flowers. While I'm working on this I hear the people in the restaurant complaining and I hurry. When I'm done, though, my little plastic device is no longer needed because the bouquet is now a large dog. What I had mistaken for blossoms is actually the dog's bushy tail, and what the people are complaining about is that its tail is on their table. It is in fact wet and matted from their soup.
I muscle the dog around to get it off their table. The patrons are sympathetic. "He's pretty old, eh?" one of them says. I look at the dog and it is has no hair on about half its back. The skin is gray and wrinkled.
I walk into a large men's room, like at an airport or university, to pee. As I am walking by the stalls, I see a pair of feet disappear, as if someone were standing on the toilet to avoid being seen. I push on the stall door and it swings open; there is no one there, but the toilet is overflowing and the stall is filthy. The stench is overwhelming.
I wake up and turn on my side and stare out of the bed at the TV. Images begin to form there, move in and out, and I realize they are not TV but hallucinations, and that I can control them, to a certain extent, and I experiment, try to make them perform in different ways, form patterns, etc. This is amusing for a moment, but suddenly I am terrified at the notion that I am not alone in my body.
We are at a trial of some sort. I am not sure who is being tried or for what. Afterwards we are preparing to leave, but ______ takes the audience hostage. He simply announces that this cannot go on and that we will not leave the room. Everyone complies even though there seems to be no real threat or weapons involved. The main point of our incarceration seems to be to allow ______ time to watch something on television. The TV is mounted on the wall in the courtroom, and we all watch as it is gradually taken over by live reports of the hostage situation in the courtroom.
When it is over, I get up to open the door. I am terrified because I know on the other side will be police intent on getting in and I am afraid I will be shot. I open it just a crack and look out. To my surprise I see only a crowd of civilians, sitting on benches as if in a waiting room. They notice me in the door and look at me with obvious interest, but no one moves. I ask if the police are nearby, because, I say, I want to let them know everyone is ok and we are coming out now. At that point about half of the crowd stands up and moves toward me, and I realize the police are in disguise among these people. None of them have guns.
A couple, looking for all the world like worried parents, come up to the door and the woman tells me that she is the police and I can tell her anything I need to say. She attempts to push past me into the room but I block the door. She stands on tiptoe and looks over me, then simply turns around and leads the entire crew of undercover police into another door which is right beside us.
A melee of rushing people and flashbulbs. I do not even see ______ being taken away, but I know he is gone and it makes me very sad. I am walking down the hallway with everyone else and it suddenly hits me that he is going to prison. I think of the gray cell and start to weep uncontrollably. People stop and look at me and I try to pretend nothing is wrong and go about my business, but I cannot stop crying. I think of ______ wasting away in prison and cry and cry.
Footnote: At the beginning, when the hostages were taken, ______ was an old friend. At the end of the dream, he is my son.
I am working at a massive convention, or athletic event, or something. It is an enormous affair that seems to be taking up all the resources of a small town. We are involved in directing traffic, unloading trucks, directing people here and there. In a traffic jam three men get up on top of cars with large flags and begin waving them to try and restore order.
At some point I stop at a tailgate party that is being thrown, apparently, by my father. I don't see him but I hear his voice in the crowd, welcoming people to the party. "Here the ice chest," he says. "What'll you have? Scotch and olives?" This is very strange because my father does not drink and I think I am overhearing something I am not supposed to, a secret.
I am in a sound studio, with lots of guitars and drum sets laying around. All the instruments and amps, though, seem just a little strange, non-standard. Charlie comes in and sits down at a drum set. We talk for a minute and then he gets up to leave. I tell him to wait a moment, and I pick up one of the guitars and plug it into an amp, via some sort of connection I have never seen. We begin, tentatively, to jam. Though the guitar seems to be tuned in a way I am unfamiliar with, though it has only 5 strings, the music comes effortlessly. I am surprised at what comes from my fingers.
In a strange town, one that is reminiscent of an old European city, with very narrow, cobblestone streets, twisting among medieval structures. For some reason I have to move a full sized bus through these streets. Nance and I get on board the bus and begin driving it. It is nighttime and there are people on the streets, and sometimes they are so narrow I scrape the buildings on either side. Finally we come to a place where there is a large stone in the middle of the road, and I realize we will have to get out and move it to go on. I stop the bus and prepare to get out, but the bus teeters when I do as if it were a huge motorcycle. I reach with my feet looking for the kick stand so I can safely de-mount the bus.
At work in a strange place-- my work place, but still it is strange, as if I have just started there. I am concocting a reason to get out of the office, making excuses why I have to go somewhere. I leave and am walking down the sidewalk, a bustling city, when I notice something impeding my progress. My legs are heavy, as if burdened or weighted, and then I notice that I have on a carpenter's belt jammed full of heavy tools. I go back to the office and leave this at my desk.
I go down to a tram stop. This city has the topography of Prague, hilly, and lots of trams. There is a large crowd waiting for the tram, but it soon becomes evident that something is wrong, somehow, and then we look down the track and see smoke and flame and a tangle of cars. Everyone, me included, begins to walk there. A utility car of some kind comes by me and I jump on it and ride the rest of the way. Then I get off and walk past the wreck and, looking for a way out of the mess, cross the street and go through a gate into a cave-like structure that contains a circular staircase. I go down the staircase several stories. The hallway narrows as I go, until finally I have to turn sideways to navigate it, and ultimately I realize that the spiral does not open out onto another level, but tapers to a point, and that I will have to go back. When I turn around, though, I find the hallway behind me has narrowed more than the one in front. I cannot go either forward or backward.
I am in Fayetteville and run into an old friend and go to a high school reunion with him. He was not in the same class as me, but I go with him anyway. Once there (it is some sort of Holiday Inn-ish affair) he walks directly in leaving me in the parking lot and as I follow him in I feel less and less like going. When I get inside I run into someone who recognizes me and tells me, "Well, you certainly do look 50."
This makes me even more nervous so I decide I am under-dressed and want to change clothes. I go back to the car and get some different clothes out of it and carry them back to the building. I find a men's room and go in there to change. There are two other men in there changing also.
When I come out I still am uncomfortable in my clothes. I have, in fact, changed into a sweatshirt and blue jeans. And I simply leave this event. I take a trip across town somehow, with different people, other old friends. There is a rap concert going on on Dickson street, a huge event, with a band in the middle of the street, and rappers and backup singers placed in the street and on the sidewalk and even on side streets blocks away. As I walk away I keep running into them around new corners. They are doing a kind of NSync number with rap on top of backup vocals and a full band.
I am walking with a three or four people, two of whom I believe are old friends. We are going to get my motorcycle and I am worried about how we will all fit on it. We keep trying to hail a cab. I tell them to hitchhike every time they see a cab. When we get to the corner of Dickson and Razorback, by the old UARK and the old bowling alley, we see a remarkable sight. A stealth bomber is sitting in the road. It takes up the entire intersection, naturally, and it is being maneuvered by a single person from the outside. He picks it up by the tip of one wing and moves it around in the intersection, as if it weighed nothing, or had some sort of gravity defying mechanism in operation.
When he finishes moving the plane around, we walk up to it and look in the open door. Inside looks rather like a ballroom, one big expanse of open floor, a wood floor, and a carpenter is in fact working on the floor, installing the last bit of tongue and groove near the door. I walk in bravely, and the carpenter shows me around. He says that he didn't install the entire floor, but only the last tiny bit. And that they control the plane from a cockpit below this deck.
I visit my doctor, who turns out to be an architect I have done work for in the past. While I'm there he asks me if I can do a little job for him, in exchange for the medical services. I say sure. He then opens his thorax like a locker and shows me his insides, which he says need to be replaced. I study them closely; they are a vastly simplified version of the human anatomy-- a vascular system that is nothing more than the heart and three or four primary veins, and two clean plastic sacks for the lungs. I say yes I can do this job.
I return to the doctor with a complete replacement. I have carried the unit in a man-sized locker. I am concerned, as I am returning, about exactly how to do it, but I see that it just simply can't be that difficult. I imagined hemostatting off the veins and sewing on the new ones. I wonder, though, about the question of identity. Will he be the same person after I replace all his insides? I content myself with the realization that he, after all, is the doctor.
When I get there, he examines me first, and writes a prescription. Then I bring out the locker and tell him I can do the replacement job for him right now. He is a little taken aback, as if he had forgotten about the request, or as if he were too busy to deal with it just now. He opens the locker and looks inside, expressionless. I ask him if he thinks there might be a problem with rejection. He shakes his head.
"I'm sorry," he says, "I have a meeting in just a few minutes, and so am unable to accept your kind offer of a complete vascular and respiratory replacement."
I am at some sort of gathering, surrounding a visit by a famous poet, whose name I can never quite remember. It is like a large convention. Anselm Hollo was there and I saw him several times across the room and tried to get to him to say hi but could never manage it. Other than him, there seemed to be no one there that I really knew, though lots of people said hello to me and they looked vaguely familiar, as if I knew them slightly but had forgotten their names.
I eventually realize that the event itself is taking place in another room, a theater. I have a hard time getting in; the door is locked and you can only get in when someone leaves. Finally someone does and several of us rush in.
Someone is just leaving the stage and everyone is clapping. The room is like a large warehouse with a few tables and chairs and I sit down at one of the tables without paying attention to it because I am watching the stage to see what happens. The big room has only three walls; the fourth is open to the outside, and the stage is on that side, so that the backdrop of the stage is a cityscape: the blank wall of a warehouse, and beyond that a hillside covered with lush grass. A film is being projected onto the blank wall of the warehouse; it seems to have been made for this site, as it incorporates scenes from the landscape around it, and also adds new and rather surreal elements, so that it is impossible to determine where the edges of the screen are. The film also appears to be using some sort of 3-D or hologrammatic technology that makes objects appear in depth, so that, for example, birds can fly around the landscape. The hologrammatic birds are indistinguishable from the real birds that are there also, except that the filmed birds are not as brightly colored. These birds are the most interesting thing, to me, about the film. I watch them with enough concentration that I don't even know what else is going on in it.
I am drawn back to immediate surroundings by someone bumping me from behind. I look up, and see that three or four women are standing behind me to watch the film, but they are crowding forward and literally about to push my chair over. I look up at them and say "what's going on here?"
The one directly over me seems to think about this for a moment and then says "Too many men."
I leave this place and the next thing I know I am loading my car. The car is the station wagon I drove when I was in high school, my father's work car, and it is full, as it was then, of his tools and junk. I am standing at the back of the wagon, arranging the stuff so that mine can fit in there, and also digging through my suitcase looking for something. My father is in the driver's seat, waiting. There are also other people in the car, but I do not know them. Behind me, a policewoman is walking back and forth, and is saying over and over, as if practicing to get it right:
"The father is about 5-8 or 5-9, dressed in black pants and shoes. The son was last seen wearing red and blue."
I look down and see I am wearing my red t-shirt and blue jeans, and then I look in the suitcase and, secretly, so the policewoman won't see, pull out another t-shirt, a gray one. The policewoman goes on reciting her litany, but it is getting louder so I know she is approaching from behind. There is a note of laughter in her voice, as if she is ribbing me, somehow. She approaches quite near, I can tell by the voice, and I stand up and stiffen. She says:
"Oh... but then you're not a masochist, are you?"
She laughs. The people in the car, excluding my father, who still looks straight ahead, turn around and laugh, repeating what she's said as if it were the punch line of a good joke. I swing around to face her, but when I do she is so close I hit her in the face with my elbow. She laughs at this also. I see now she is not a real policewoman, but just someone in a police costume. And her face is painted blue, to match.
I am at someone's house I do not know. This person has several cats and other animals. I am petting one of the cats and notice it feels abnormal, an odd shape beneath the fur. Then I notice it has two heads. I comment on the fact: "Hey, this cat has two heads."
Someone else says, "They all do."
Then I realize I'm in a home for mutant animals.
A ship comes through town, a traveling exhibition. It features two whales, a day whale and a night whale. One swims on one side of the ship, one on the other. But the night whale swims under a great cowl. I go swimming and I swim beside the day whale. I don't think I can swim all the way under it, but I take a deep breath and manage to do it, swimming right by the great eye. I come up on the other side of the ship, next to the cover of the night whale. The cover hangs from the side of the boat, almost to the surface of the water. I can just make out the whale beneath it. I take a deep breath and prepare to dive under.
(1). Nance's family is all here for the holidays. Her parents are staying at a bed and breakfast a few blocks away. One morning I am standing on the porch when her parents arrive at our house. They have undergone a change in the night; they have both grown long hair and beards, like the stereotypical Moses, long flowing white hair and beards.
(2). I am at a film screening at some university building. It is in a classroom and we are sitting at desks and I have my powerbook with me and I am playing with that and not really watching the movie. Then I notice everyone is getting up and someone tells me it is intermission. So I get up to stretch my legs, walk out into the hall, which is thronging with people, more like a mall in christmas season, really, than a university building between classes. I stroll down the hall and I see my sons sitting in armchairs in a little lounge area near the stairs. I say hello, and they say hello. They seem bored and distracted. I ask them what they're doing and they say they're waiting for their mom. It's weird, running into them "on the street" like this, and I sort of don't know how to act.
Suddenly I remember that I have left my powerbook in the classroom, so I excuse myself and hurry back. When I get there, though, it is not the same room. The building is complicated, with hallways off of hallways, and rooms off of these pods, and I run around from pod to pod and each of them looks like the right one but when I get to the room itself it is not. The hallways are so crowded I have to walk sideways to get to the rooms, and then bump into people to get back out. I'm starting to realize I've lost the computer and it makes me very sad. There's a good bit of work on the hard drive I won't be able to replace.
Finally I lean over a railing overlooking the stairwell. On the landing just below, a large crowd has gathered, looking at something on the floor in the middle of them that I can't see. Then someone who has apparently been kneeling among them stands up and says:
"Gentlemen, the respirator has expired."
I was on campus after hours, on a weekend, and decided to go by my office to do some work on the computer there, but when I got to the building the entrance was blocked by construction. They were building a driveway and drop-off right in the front door. Through the opening I could see that my wooden office door had been replaced with glass. A bus comes by and I get on, only to discover that it is only going to the parking lot, which is now on the roof of my building. We are stopped, however, by some sort of traffic congestion I can't see, and the driver has us get out in the middle of the parking lot ramp and walk back down.
The place no longer resembles my campus. It is an international airport. Nance is there and we take a seat in a lobby area to wait for our flight (I suppose). I go off at one point and the walk through the terminal is a walk through a human sea. People are walking, running, and sitting on the floor. Some are camped out and sleeping on the floor. At one point I trip over someone and fall down beside a girl who recognizes me. I have no idea who she is but she reminds me that she is a friend of a poet I know. Though I still don't recognize or recall her, I of course say, "Oh yes, how are you?" She then proceeds to come on to me. There is a man's arm around her shoulder, but he is talking to someone else and is apparently paying no attention. She notices me looking at his arm and says:
"Around 4:30 in the morning is when my bed gets interesting. You should come by."
At this point the man turns his attention for the other conversation and looks at me and nods his agreement to the invitation. I say "ok maybe I'll come by" or something and go on down the hall.
When I get back the lobby area where we were sitting is jam packed and I now have to share my seat with two kids. They appear to be (Eastern) Indian, twins about 4 or 5.
The lobby begins to move and I realize that it is not a lobby; but I am not sure what it is. At first I think it is the plane itself, but then I see we are on the highway so I conclude it must be a shuttle bus.
There are security guards in fatigues walking among us now, questioning people at random and searching their bags. I see that they are outside, on the freeway, also, pairs of them in humvees. One pair of them has pulled over a van and is searching it. The van is full of musicians and their instruments. One is standing by the roadside with his tuba. One of the guards is talking to another one and holding three clarinets. The guard has the musician blow on the clarinets, each in turn, then gives them back to him.
At some point I figure out that we are on a shuttle bus going from one terminal to another, and I tell this to Nance, who seems to have known all along. We get to the other terminal and go into the lobby there. We sit down at the gate to wait for our plane. I ask Nance if she has the tickets and she doesn't. So I go off down the hallway to find a ticket window to pick them up.
I am at the old house on Franklin, hosting a party at which I know no one. It is as if everyone there is someone I am barely acquainted with, not even enough to know their names.
I go outside after a while and at some point I trip and fall down, hurting my hip. It bothers me throughout the dream (and indeed is hurting when I wake up). I go out front and sit on the low masonry fence.
A truck is driving down the street; it suddenly swerves and turns into the driveway, roars past me without slowing down, goes through the gates, down the side of the house, and turns and rolls into the back yard. I am aghast, for one reason, because the driveway is so narrow the truck has only a couple of inches of clearance on either side. (In reality a truck could not have fit). And I am aghast that he is going back there at all.
But it has scarcely disappeared around the corner of the house when it reappears, backing down the driveway with the same impunity it drove in. When it passes me I look in the cab and see that it is being driven by an old man with a gray beard. He is holding a watermelon in one hand. When I see this I suddenly crave the watermelon and yell at him to stop. "Got any more of those?" I say.
"Sure," he says, and he stops and gets out. "I've got a spring in the back."
He has left the melon he was holding in the cab of the truck, but in his hand now is another melon, much smaller, the size of a large apple. He opens the door and takes out another one and breaks it open on the fence for me to try. I break out a handful and taste it. It's delicious, sweet and perfect. The juice runs down my chin. "I'll take four," I say, thinking that they'll be perfect for the party.
He heads to the back of the truck to get them for me.
Suddenly, then, the dogs are at my feet. They remind me that the gate is open and I must get them in and close it. These dogs resemble pairs of dogs I have had in the past; Tex and Janey when I was very young, in the sixties, and Sasha and Buster when I lived on Franklin, at this house. But, though they more closely resemble Tex and Janey, they are neither of these pairs. I call them by name, but I have now forgotten what their names were.
Anyway, the dogs are racing around at my feet, ecstatic to be loose. I call them and try to herd them back toward the gate, but they are racing madly in every direction. I now notice that one of the gates is off its hinges. These gates are huge and heavy so this is a major problem. I struggle with it for some time to shove it back into place so it will stay closed. I then focus my attention on engaging the foot bolt and notice that the mechanism is not the one I remember. It is two metal rods which slide down into holes in the driveway, each of which is lined with rubber hose, which protrudes from the holes an inch or so. I stare at this mechanism for a long time. Its unfamiliarity affects me deeply so all I can do is stand and stare.
I am riding a bicycle around a lake. The lake is crowded with tourists, swimming, boating, picnicking, and fishing. I ride by one fisherman and see on the ground beside him a sizable stringer of sand-colored fish. "Damn, you're catchin some, huh?" I say.
"Yeah," he says, "plenty of these little Shem."
As I ride around the lake I pass by fisherman after fisherman and each has a healthy stringer of the little "shem," which look like perch or crappie except that they are uniformly the color of yellowish sand or clay, almost as if they were drawn in monochrome. More than once, as I negotiate the crooked bank path on my bike, I have to run over clusters of these fish, and my wheels slide precariously under me.
i am again on a ledge overlooking water. i am walking along casually and feel a string, like an invisible fishing line left there by someone else. i pull it in, against what feels like live resistance (ie a fish) but when i get it to the surface i see what i have caught is a snake. i continue to pull it in, though the snake is large and it scares me. it resembles a water moccasin but it is perhaps seven feet long. i can see something moving inside it, under the skin, as if the force of the line were moving something back and forth in the body cavity.
i have it just out of the water (for i seem determined to bring it in despite the fact i want nothing to do with it) when the line snaps and it falls to the ground at the edge of the water. it grunts when it lands in an almost human fashion.
now i sit down on the ledge, dangling my feet over the side, and dangle the line in front of the snake, trying to catch it in a loop, which i do, almost as if it wanted to be caught. i start to pull it up again, though it is not my intention to bring it all the way in, but to let it drop-- i want to hear its strange grunt again. but i bring it up too far and it gets a loop over my foot and instantly has a coil around my ankle.
now i panic, shaking one leg frantically and trying to push it off with the other. i am so terrified i can't look at it, i have to look up and away as i struggle. but the tactile sensation, what i feel when i look away, is not that of a snake but of a human; i feel hands grasping my ankle. and when i kick down with the other foot it is a human head that i feel under it.
i was watching myself hanging around in the dream-house. i wasn't really doing anything, but hung around there with the attitude of an actor. there was something vaguely criminal going on.
later, outside, the situation came to a head and a bomb fell in a crowd of people. the bomb stuck in the ground like a cartoon bomb and out of its tail began to spew a sticky chromium confetti. it fell on the crowd like snow, sticking to their bodies until it covered and suffocated them, chrome covered bodies writhing on the ground.
i'm wading in shallow water, ankle deep, muddy like the mississippi coast. something brushes my ankle. i lift my foot out of the water and shake it.
someone bragging about his deformities pulls up his pant legs and shows me his calves. the left one is large; the right one is huge and the right foot is a club foot. elephant leg and elephant foot.
later, i open an overhead cupboard and snakes fall out of it, brightly colored, blue orange green red, in stripes and diamonds and paisleys. they are stacked in the cupboard like stacks of ash trays. as i walk away they're crawling all over the ground under my feet, but i pretend not to notice them.
we're sitting in the bed in the early morning, talking, reading the paper. a large spider moves across the cover. i can see it's harmless, like a giant wolf spider; still its size is unnerving. we both look at it but continue our conversation. we keep it visible in the corner or our eye but do not mention it. it doesn't do anything. moves a few inches every now and again. after a few minutes of talking, and I have no memory of what was said, I wake up.
In this one there was some sort of hostage situation, I believe. At some points it seamed to be me that was the hostage, at other times it seemed to be someone else. The first thing I remember is one of the kidnappers being suddenly overwhelmed in this strange manner: He was sitting in a room, his gun on the table in front of him. Suddenly, the spigot of a fire extinguisher came through the window and sprayed him in the face. He runs outside with his hands over his face (camera follows him) and falls to the ground screaming. When he takes his hands away we see his face is frozen, half covered with dry ice.
Later, the kidnappers take revenge on me. One takes a revolver, puts in one bullet, and spins the chamber. Then he shows it to me, pulling back the keeper so I can see there is only one bullet in it, but when he does I see that three of the chambers are loaded. I say "so we're going to play Russian Roulette?"
He replies, "No, we're going to play a game called 'Prefiguring Death Again.'"
Then he hands me the gun. I take it; then I woke up.
a large, rude, warehouse. we, some people i am comfortable with, somehow, but do not know, are laying carpet, a crazy quilt of scraps all over the huge floor. every so often we have to stop and move furniture that is in the way: old ratty couches, futons, beds with people sleeping in them.
it starts to rain, thunderous noise on the vast tin roof.
when it quits, i go outside, walking on boards to stay out of the mud. in one corner of the yard, which is large and tree-shaded (sort of like a large uptown yard while the house is under construction), a group of chickens have gathered. there are about a hundred of them, small and lean and washed out looking, filthy with mud and shit, their beaks gaping open with a look of panic. they are not afraid as i walk in among them. in fact, some them climb up on my shoulder and back. they run their filthy beaks around my ear, peck at my face. i'm horrified and knock them away and go back in.
i notice, then, specks of slobber on my glasses. i take them off to clean them and see mites crawling over the lenses. i ask one of my friends: "what do you do when you get these fucking mites?"
he says "take a shower and wash them off."
I was up and getting ready to go to work, in the bathroom, and heard a noise outside, a thump. After I got dressed I went out into the back yard and found a pickup truck, a silver Ford, crashed into the house. It was half up on the deck, the front corner embedded in the wall.
This morning I dream of cooking popcorn. Pan after pan of it. Swirling oil and pouring in the kernels. I didn't wake up hungry, but nauseated, disgusted.
A brief dream which I envisioned already set out in the form of this journal. The text blocks, the shades of green. By the time I get here to write it, the dream is gone, and all that's left is a block of blurred text, about this long.
Nance and I were walking down a corridor or pathway of some sort that resembled a European rail station. There were tracks both on the ground and overhead, with strange machines running back and forth on them. We were walking up one of the tracks, in a hurry, as if trying to catch a train.
I was in front of her, walking quickly, and suddenly noticed that I was smoking. I felt the smoke in my lungs and threw the cigarette away with contempt. "Fuck," I said as I hurried down the track, "I can't believe I did that." But then, just a little further down, I again caught myself smoking. I said to Nance, "I can't believe this. I haven't had a cigarette in a month, and then we come here and I 've had four in the last hour."
I am walking through some sort of institutional setting, a cross between an airport and a university, long hallways teeming with people. I decide to take a short cut to where I'm going (wherever that was) and cut across a parking lot and then into an arena. I enter the empty stadium at a run, coming in on an upper lever, planning to run around the bleachers and out the other side. I am fairly well flying down the rows of steps, and realize simultaneously that I am going too fast and am going to overbalance, and also that the bleachers are abnormally steep, almost vertical- I am all but in free fall.
I drop to an aisle, then, and simply hold on, panting and frightened. While I am engaged thus, staring at the floor, a woman walks by me. I do not look up; I only see her from the ankles down- high heels and stockings. She walks nonchalantly, unaffected by the steepness of the slope, which is, to me anyway, daunting.
I start to get up, slip, and slide down to a slippery, gravel-strewn ledge that I suddenly realize is the edge of a loge or level. It drops off into the arena just below me, with nothing between me and the drop but a skein of rusty chicken wire, which is in poor repair. I am sliding inexorably on the gravel; now only the wire is between me and the fall.
A rush of vertigo grabs me as I realize I cannot stop myself, but the fear seems curiously pro-forma, as if I don't really believe harm is going to come to me. I look down and see that the arena is actually a lake. Where I am is a recreation of a scene in the Pyrenees, where Nance and I had hiked last August; at one point walking along a narrow ledge 30 meters above a mountain lake. The lake, surrounded on three sides by steep mountains, had the appearance of a gigantic arena.
I am hanging now by some rusty tangles of chicken wire, which is giving in fits and starts. It finally lets me drop into the water, which turns out to be warm, soft, amniotic, rather than cold and green as it appeared. Though I seem to fall a great distance, I enter it without violence or pain, and as it closes over my head and I sink down into darker and darker green, I am unconcerned and perfectly comfortable.