Dark Have Been My Dreams of Late

Though he may not at first seem an obvious standard to which one could measure one’s own experience with matters of the subconscious, I have recently been drawn to M.C. Escher’s quote about dreams upon considering my own recent history: “I don’t use drugs, my dreams are frightening enough.”

After a brief foray into a semi-normal sleep schedule, my insomnia is back in full ugliness right now, keeping me awake for most of the last two weeks. On the nights when I do manage to fall asleep, I tend to wake up nearly every half-hour or hour, so that I can never get into that deep, restful sleep. Instead, I seem to bounce from consciousness to sub-consciousness, fleetingly hitting all the points in between. As a result, not only am I exhausted, but I’ve also been experiencing stranger than average dreams. It’s as if my nocturnal imagination knows it only has a limited amount of time to do what it needs to do, and subsequently condenses what would normally take place over the course eight hours into short, one-act plays filled to the brim with darkness and the bizarre. Though it’s normal for me to remember my dreams with great and vivid detail, the subject matter of my dreams has taken a somewhat adventurous, if not downright dangerous turn. And I wake up recalling with precision every frightening second.

My mind has been busy with everything from dreams about swimming in shark-infested waters while clinging to a sinking car to living in the mind of a Vietnamese man Being-John-Malkovich-style. Weird stuff, man. And I swear I’m not eating ice cream right before bed, Mom! These insane dreams just occur of their own volition, filling and staining my nighttime mind so much that those dreams linger and haunt me throughout the day, flashes of visual images popping in and out of my brain while I type shoe descriptions and press releases at work.

Dreams are thought to allow repressed parts of the mind to be satisfied through fantasy, while keeping the conscious mind from thoughts that would suddenly cause one to awaken from shock. Freud suggested that bad dreams let the brain learn to gain control over emotions resulting from distressing experiences. Either way, it’s clear to me that my dreams have been trying to tell me a lot lately, and I feel a certain responsibility to not only pay attention, but to write about it—after all, writing is how I learn and process things and the great part about being a writer is that very often a publishable piece becomes a welcome byproduct of that mental or emotional processing.

Two such strange dreams (one about calling an ambulance to save my blood disease-stricken dog and one about making caring for a newborn moose in the middle of a blizzard) have made their way into poems in the last few weeks. Their oddity was so bold and vast that I almost felt as if I had no choice but to immortalize them on the page; some things just lend themselves to poetry so easily that all a poet need do is simply serve as the documentarian. This calls to mind one dream poem I wrote several years ago, first published in Issue Two of the Driftwood Review. I posted it below not just for you all to read, but also to remind myself that the dreams and even the nightmares I’ve played in the internal cinema of my subconscious do serve some purpose, if only to feed my creative endeavors.

**P.S. Anyone who gets the reference in the title wins a bonus +10 nerd points**

Dream Labor

        During the shake between
        nighttime and morning,
        I dreamed I was squeezing
        from my palm splinters
        made of feathers.
        Down a hallway
        I saw black stripes,
        hidden gray beneath
        the olivey-whiteness
        of my skin. I pushed
        with my fingertips,
        to break the skin enough,
        so I’d have something
        to grab hold of, to pull on
        until the feathers were
        born of me. Though newborn,
        the feathers were dry
        and fluffed,
        and opened up
        like fern leaves
        when I freed them
        from my skin.


5 thoughts on “Dark Have Been My Dreams of Late

  1. Wild. I woke up the other day and wrote this:


    I cracked my hand and out grew a leaf, turning back to green. And when I could no longer flake it away, I had to accept it and go about my business.

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