Tag Archives: dreams

A Sonnet This Time

This is one of twelve sonnets that I wrote as my senior thesis at Reed in 1984. Almost all of the poems were about my father, and the work as a whole was called Snake Charm: Twelve Sonnets.

DADDY SHOWS UP IN A DREAM AS A DRUNKEN SAILOR

Thank you for your visit. I woke hungry.

Everything I’ve heard is true: no snake could

be such a charmer in a crush. But we

did have quite a time, for a while, you stewed

and me my Daddy’s girl. I understood

that afterwards I’d be alone and here

I am. Lately I see things as I should,

all taken bravely in and focused clear;

still, pain and beauty always disappear

too suddenly. I’ve been picking at your

bones too long. Scene by scene dreams reappear,

but, after, I can’t feel them any more.

 

The weather’s changed since the autumn solstice;

the light’s dazzling: Daddy, you should see this.

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Ghosts

There are quite a few references to “ghosts” in Holding Breath.  Shortly after David passed on, several things happened for which I had no perfect explanation; as I said in the book, I’d always been cynical about the notion of “ghosts” or “spirits”, but I really wanted to believe that incidents like plants in pots falling over for no discernible reason on a couple of key occasions, a strange bird that sat on my stoop and stared at me, unafraid, for a long time, and other things were signs that David wasn’t really “gone,” and that he was trying to let me know that.  (My cynicism about such things has now completely dissipated, although I would use the term “spirit” rather than “ghost”; I only wish that I’d been more open to the possibilities back then, when it would have helped me a great deal.)

One day several years ago, as I was sitting in a Japanese restaurant in Hoboken, Gordon Lightfoot’s song, “If You Could  Read My Mind” started to play quietly in the background.  I’d always really liked the song, but when I heard it that time I was in the midst of the re-ignited grief that I write about in the book, and I became so engrossed in the lyrics of the song that I had trouble speaking to my lunch companion.  The song seemed, and still seems, to relate to things I’ve thought about David on so many levels–not just the literal idea of “ghosts”/spirits, but the need I believe David had to be “set free” by an understanding of who he was both before and after his passing (the very last part of the book relates a dream that David’s daughter had and told me about a few years ago, and that seemed like a profoundly accurate illustration of that need).

Naturally, I had to include “If You Could Read My Mind” on the playlist for Holding Breath.  Here it is (it’s a very nice live version):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-ij_iTQt2w

(Holding Breath: A Memoir of AIDS’ Wildfire Days is available here:

http://www.amazon.com/Holding-Breath-Memoir-AIDS-Wildfire/dp/1480164518/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1350864778&sr=1-3 )

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