DREAMS OF THE FAIR

This week I had a dream that I was trying to go to the fair. The ticket booth, which was the only was to get in, was on a dirty covered hillside, behind a row of strangely placed buildings. There was no parking near any of them—the closest parking had been up at the top of a plateau, about half a mile up from the ticket booth. There were pine trees scattered about and another half-mile past you could see the fair. I had gotten in line behind a few slow moving people. I think I had been trying to meet my little brother, my older sister, and my father there.

The fair itself looked quite a bit more spectacular than the local one we get. There were dozens of rides that rose above the walls, and off to the east there was a strange roof that appeared to be made of water, which had reflected light through it in the way that a pool does. It was so exciting—and frustrating, because the line hadn’t moved. There were only a few people there. I remember thinking, Why are people so inept? before I actually decided to look around and see what was going on.

The line had three people ahead of me, all of them were elderly and white. So white, they looked as though they had bathed in a tub of bleach. All of them were wearing strange clothing. One, a woman, wore a big yellow rain coat, and massive rain boots to match. In front of her was a man, dressed in an all-grey track suit, with a pair of running shoes that had been so worn they were beginning to fray. The last person was dressed in a light green sundress, though I couldn’t distinguish if they were male or female. But they were certainly grey haired and wrinkly.

All of them were looking down, and the young woman in the ticket booth was looking beyond confused. She had called “next” several times, though even I hadn’t heard her say it until I saw her. I skipped ahead of the line when I realized nobody else was moving. When I began to walk past each person, the elderly people slowly raised their heads in disdain, but none of them moved to stop me.

I don’t remember speaking to the girl, nor getting inside the fair, yet somehow I’d made it there. I was in the water-roofed room. The ceiling had no glass, but somehow, as if by magic, the water was all suspended in the air. It was a beautiful sight, like the spirit of vacation incarnated. And it was the last thing I remember seeing before I woke up.

 

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LOVE POEM #61 – THE DAY I FELL IN LOVE

It wasn’t a radiant day, it wasn’t a star-lit night,

it wasn’t a summer sun, it wasn’t a winter light.

It was just a day. A day, much like today,

where the rancid weight of our rotten job

rolled over my toes for the fourth time in a week.

 

There was no oak tree, nor one ripe with peach,

no simple sunset, nor calm, sandswept beach.

It was just a day, much like today,

where grey-white clouds blotched blue skies.

 

And yet, in you, I found a cliché dream

hidden like rain in those sky blue eyes.

A dream of diamond ringlets, crested with rubies and gold,

where the plunder of power was too weak to take hold.

 

But that was just a day, a day just like today,

that wasn’t like to come again

So Carpe Diem; I seized the day.

——

 

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PEOPLE WATCHING IN PARIS

I spent the afternoon at a small café in Paris, which could hardly fit the family two tables down from me. They had a string of three children toppling off the edges of the red backed booth—two girls and a boy. The girls were older, in matching pink dresses, and the word that ran through my mind was “starbright” when I saw their smiles. The boy, on the other hand, was more stoic than a Buddhist meditating, as if had been shot with 20 CC’s of chill-the-fuck-out by his parents. He wore a red t-shirt and navy blue shorts, and had donned a matching navy blue baseball cap.

Their mother was a tall, lanky woman, with thin arms, thin legs, and a thin waist—one she clearly paid careful attention to maintain. Her daughters were the spitting image of her: tall for their age, strikingly blonde, and beautiful. But where their smiles were bright and full of happiness, their mother’s was full of anguish, as if nothing could have annoyed her more than going out with her family that day. To contrast, their father was the height of personable. He had kept the waiter around for minutes, prying the youth out of his shell until they were both cracking jokes, and before long the manager had to pull her employee back to work.

They came and went, and I sat, drinking my coffee in the sunlight. It was a cool day, where a few minute indoors could leave you chilled, but a minute outside would melt the ice right off your backside. A good day to be people watching. The beautiful maids in sundresses walked around less in a step and more in a dance, and their partners never seemed to have the same sense of rhythm about them. They looked a bit too porcelain for my taste, but lovely nonetheless. I was particularly struck by the elderly couple that passed by when I took the last few sips of my drink.

I had never seen a couple with more swagger make their way down la rue. They were both in exceedingly white clothing, bleached to the point of blindness, save for matching pairs of Aviator sunglasses, which covered their eyes entirely. Unlike most elderly couples, there was nothing feeble about how they moved—they might as well have been going to the gym to beat up on some college athletes. Their grim expression was fitting a pair that had survived a world war, and didn’t hope to survive into another. But they too came and went, and my mug was finally empty. I left a couple notes on the table, beneath my cup, grabbed my bag, and started walking home.

——

 

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DREAM LOOP

Today’s dream (or rather, last night’s dream) plays with something of normalcy, which is something that seems to occur regularly in my dreams, which is perhaps why I’ve struggled to remember them for so many years. Here it is:

 

I woke up, for the first time, or perhaps the millionth, gasping for breath. My room was dark, but the beam of light peaking out between my window curtains signaled to me that it was well into the morning. I took a brief look around, when suddenly the door burst in and my father was there, spewing some nonsense about getting out of bed and doing my chores. I couldn’t really make it out, but his tone of voice was clear enough. I sprung to my feet, threw a pair of shorts on, pulled a shirt over my head and walked through the door…

…then sat up gasping for breath again, again, for what felt like the first time, but may have been the millionth. At the time, I had no memory of what happened prior, just as many fail to remember their dreams moments after waking. This time there was a scratching at the door, likely from one of our cats. They would occasionally scratch, asking for food—or occasionally freedom. I opened the door, and saw Twilight, our black cat, staring up at me with great green eyes. I walked her to the door to let her out front, the pitter-patter of her feet were as light as snowflakes falling. I twisted the nob, watched her exit, then figured I’d grab myself a quick bite to break my fast. I took two quick steps to the fridge, opened the door

and again was gasping for air in my bed.

 

But this was where the dream ended. My eyes opened, and the world felt that slight twinge of real that distinguishes it from even the most vivid dreams. What does it mean? I don’t really know. I could be, very obviously, that my life is literally on repeat. Day in and day out things are too similar to really be distinguished. The repetition of gasping could very well be indicative of choking, as if I am dying by doing this. Or, it could mean nothing, and this is just some weird thing my brain decided to project, and I just happened to remember it. Who knows? Let me know what dreams you’ve had that stood out to you in the comments below!

 

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FLY AWAY (AND OTHER HAIKUS)

Cats at Play

Diving after strings

with the same ferocity

as a great lion.

 

Unpaired

Dazzled by the pair

of dancers in the moonlight,

I walked home alone.

 

Fly Away

The old, dead leaves fall,

but before they hit the ground

wind flies them away.

 

Leaves in the Pool

Debris from the trees

float, tentative as a fly

waiting to be struck.

 

Outdoor Mornings

Waking to a kiss

of sunlight and waterfalls;

lost in the stillness.

——

 

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LOVE POEM #59 – THE APPROACHING NIGHT

Falling in love with you was like

listening to The Approaching Night

beneath an outstretched tree branch

in the backyard of my childhood home

while the yellow-orange sun glimmered

between sunset and nightfall.

 

In that short moment of reverence

it felt as though the great chariot

road across the sky just for you;

as perfectly balanced as a tightrope walker

so that neither of us were burned.

 

And yet looking at you tonight,

I can see that the approach of night

has long since passed us into the smaller hours.

Where the piano music twinkles

with the starlight; eternal

impassioned, and beloved.

 

Even though the lines of age

have filled your face with wisdom,

and bones once strong as the mighty oak

have grown flaccid and weary,

I see in you now the nova of life

burning more brightly than ever before,

having accepted that the inevitable extinguishing

is best enjoyed while living in the apex of the sun.

——

 

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NIGHT ON THE BARE MOUNTAIN

When I finally reached the flat top of the mountain, I was greeted by a flatland that was more the top of a hill than a mountain—so green and grassy I could hardly believe myself. I took a nap for a while, and when I awoke the sun had been falling.

The sudden rush of cold air had taken me by surprise, marking the end of the day. Nightfall was setting in, and the air had taken a dramatic turn from the comforts of that afternoon. I had spent the day hiking to the top of the bald mountain. It had been a beautiful hike to the top. The sky had been a clear blue, with sky shrouds only at the edges of the world view.

But it had also been quite treacherous. There were many places where the rocks threatened to give way, and the way down was no easier. Each step felt like I was trudging through the snow, hoping not to fall into some unseen depths. I turned a corner on the main path, and was blown by a powerful gust, which knocked me on my backside and rolled me toward the edge of a cliff. My legs were dangling over the side when I finally got control again, and the wind subsided. I looked down at the eons of space beneath me, like a vast mouth of darkness, threatening to swallow me up like Jonah. Grasping for the strands of ground, I managed to scramble back to my feet, and continue down.

I was given a brief respite for most of the rest of the way down, and eventually grew accustomed to the treacherous ground and chill air. The clouds had rolled in in droves, like a pack of beasts descending in the night, and when the first crack on lightning shot through the sky, it sounded almost like they had made the call for pursuit. The rains fell then, hard. Each drop was a rock, and blurred my vision. But I was getting close to the bottom.

The tempest was in full throttle then. It felt as though it were sent there, just to trap me. I had begun running, though I couldn’t remember when. I hopped over bushes, between fallen branches, and across small gaps in the path, emboldened and afraid of what would come next. I wanted to get away before more went wrong. The trees were shaking; rattling like snakes coiled, and the path had grown thick with mud. Many steps became more like surfing through waves of mud than stepping through them.

Until finally, I broke out from behind the last tree, and the world grew quiet. I looked back at the bald mountain, which looked like Sisyphus trapped in his own hell then. But I had escaped. I walked over to my car and drove home, though I kept my eye on the mountain as it grew more distant, just to make sure the storm stayed with it.

——

 

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BARN FIRE DREAMS

For the past while I have been recording my dreams, either in a mental log or on actual paper, and you may have notice I’ve been talking about dreams a lot over the past few weeks. That’s because I wanted to change up my Tuesday slot, because I’m struggling more and more not to be redundant with my concepts. I mean, you can skin a cat multiple ways…but at the end of it, all you’ve done is a bunch of skin cats. And it really isn’t in my interest to have people saying something like “Yeah I get it” when I talk about my ideas. So, instead, let me describe a short dream to you that I had the other day:

 

The world began with the light from a rotting wooden roof. Sunbeams looked down on me from the rectangular holes of missing roof tiles, and the interior of the barn had grown over with moss and various other plants. But the hay was still comfortable—at least, as I realized my arm was trapped beneath a woman, it had been for the half the night we had slept. I didn’t know her name, but she look familiar, like the friend of a friend. As I rubbed my eyes and rose, stumbling, I saw that the place really was run down. The walls looked like they might give out any time, and the color of the wood was so grey with rot that it scarcely looked a color at all.

And then I was outside, almost more suddenly than my mind could keep pace with. The air was fresh like the morning after a heavy rain, though the ground gave no hint that there had been so much as a drop recently. There were a great many trees around us, though there were other small cabins mixed in as well. It looked like a world stuck out of time to my mind’s eye, yet my body felt perfectly at home.

Until, of course, a young woman rounded the corner and ran up to me. Her hair was a vibrant red, and when she approached me it was clear she had been running for a great long while.

“Fire,” She gasped, pointing back the way she came, “help.” Without a moment’s hesitation, we were off running again. I can’t say how long we ran for, nor how I got my hands on a massive hose, but there we were, spraying down the side of another barn. Everything was going according to plan, until the faint cries of “help” rose up through the barn window, and we realized someone was inside. I handed the youth the hose, and ran toward the half open door. The heat inside singed my face, but I continued inward. It was as though the world itself had been immersed in flame. The Earth, the walls, and the roof all burned heavily. Even the faint view of the light seen from the shattered window in the loft looked redder than it had outside.

I looked around, and saw a pair of children standing at the center of the room, paralyzed with fear. It looked like they had found the only place without fire, though the circle around them was growing ever smaller. There was no way to get to them, save through the flames. Somehow, I found an area where the fire was less fierce, and took a few quick steps across the flames to them. I scooped them up in my arms, then looked for the door. In all the movement I had lost my bearings. It seemed so much farther than before.

Wood crashed around us as the roof began to shatter, shooting sparks through the air. The flames fed on the fallen wood like wolves on their prey, and grew all the fiercer. There would be no making it back to the door the way I had came. I looked around for another way to cross, but there was none. The flames crept closer, so close the children had to huddle against me tight. My mind raced, until it came to me that I’d have to toss them. They might break an arm in the landing, but it was better than being burned alive.

I did it one at a time. The boy went through first. His body soared over the tips of the flames, which in that moment looked more like the finger of Hell. He crashed through the door, rolling a few times before struggling to his feet. The girl was next. She was heavier than he was, and the tips of her skirt caught fire as she passed over the wall before us, but in landing she rolled and they were put out. The wall of fire screamed before me, enraged I had taken it’s prey from it. There was a huge crack, and I saw the ceiling finally give way. Then everything went dark.

 

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OVERCAST (AND OTHER HAIKUS)

Overcast

The faded roses

wonder what their red was like

before the clouds came.

 

Thin

Looked in the mirror

and saw how my innocence

had grown thin with age.

 

Right Wing

Age begets wisdom

yet somehow those wise people

abandoned reason.

 

Lonely Sweat

I tossed the blanket

from our overly small bed

in a lonely sweat.

 

Dancing Trees

The twisting branches

entwine like tango dancers

suspended in air.

——

 

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DISCUSSING THE INFERNO

I’ve never really been one for writing book reviews. That’s what the Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB) is for, among many other outlets. But I did just finish Dante’s Inferno, and talking about it is effectively a book review, so settle in. If you haven’t read it, Inferno is basically what you would expect. Dante, guided by his senpai Virgil, enters and traverses the bowels of Hell. He listens to many, many different sinners, along with their stories. The plot is leading up to him reaching Heaven, but that doesn’t actually happen until after Inferno.

Ok. Cool. Plot summarized. Now to the fun stuff. The Inferno is a really interesting read, because while it is very “of its time” (literally, you would not believe how many then-contemporary Italian political references there are), it also contains many aspects that can be extended to present day political life. I mean, human nature doesn’t change THAT much, does it? If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve seen a few quotes that pretty directly relate to the modern political climate. What I found most peculiar about Inferno though, is how Dante treats sin.

Today it seems like there is no middle ground. You are evil, or you are good, and if you are sinful, then you can never be virtuous. By contrast, in the book, there is a split. There are those people who never look back, and are bad through and through, but there are also those who were great, but punished for their sins. The proof that they were great is that Dante speaks well of some of them. Speaking well of somebody who inhabits Hell, not Heaven, seems a bit…wrong, right? But I think that’s the crux of the story—that despite our flaws and short comings, we can still be good people, if we act in a manner that uplifts humankind. By contrast, if we instead turn our backs on humanity and virtue, and live a life solely for ourselves, that greed will consume us and damage everything around us.

A bit of pride is good. Too much pride is dangerous. The Greeks used Icarus to portray this, among others. Dante used various Popes and historical figures like Brutus and Cassius. Yet those men, if Shakespeare’s tragedy is to believed, were trying to defend democracy in betraying Cesar. They were punished, but their actions were, in many ways, for a greater good. What do you think? Where would you draw the line? Let me know in the comments!

 

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