But except in dreams

we are never really free. As the song goes. Don’t dreams have a way of working for us creatively and by sorting out big questions of the self? Interpretations are best left to the dreamer and not those who want to make symbols and apply them as meanings to be used again as from a dream dictionary. That is not to say that images will not turn up from ideas, memories, ancient art, alchemy, initiations, stories, and myths. They can make questions bigger or show us something we pondered about in more simple terms, whether or not they actually answer any questions at all, it may be enough to be engaged in thinking about our lives from a dream perspective.

Here is a favorite poem from Where it Goes by Martina Reisz Newberry.

A Cete of Badgers, a Sleuth of Bears


FLINT       for Penelope


The tears. Where would we be
without the brine of tears?
Tasted blurred vision,
pain relinquished, escaping slowly,
heart waste, basted,
tears wrung out, dry tears,
tear upon tear,
tears that will not fall
even in our sleep
from what well of hearts
run down cold window panes,
late November fog,
brain fog, lifted,
sweat on the cold
metal of the mind,
cobweb of relished dreams
glimmering in morning sun,
redemptive tears.


Prayer I Should Have Prayed Last Night

Prayer I Should Have Prayed Last Night
by Stuart Kestenbaum from Prayers & Run-on Sentences

When I wake I am still carrying the night with me,
the trembling wind we are awash in, and the wind
outside howls or does what the wind does, which is
not howl but knit trees and leaves together with clouds
and lash the sun together with the moon. I am only
imagining this because I haven’t studied my science today
and so can’t tell the truth of things, I can only tell
what I am making up at this moment when the darkness
departs like a wave receding, and the sea is absorbed
in the dense sand, which lightens as the water travels away,
the same way I lay awake in my bed last night, fear
washing over me and seeping into the mattress,
my vessel, my washed-up raft.



Since first posting this poem a bright moment occurred:

Stuart Kestenbaum’s new book Only Now had a poem Prayer for Joy, appear on American Life in Poetry, and therefore also on the Poetry Foundation — Also, find the poem Prayer for the Dead, that appeared in 2007 from Prayers & Run-on Sentences 

Thanks to Ted Kooser

This morning’s favorite poem from Prayers & Run-on Sentences, (published in 2007 by Deerbrook Editions, with a number of poems read on The Writer’s Almanac, and is still popularstruck me for the sense of angst but more a reminder of a humanity-even condition faced over space and time, day, night, morning, how one sense of these is flipped over across the globe, this morning is that evening when prayers are not made for an answer but for the connection we cannot find in our fear, in our solitude and longing, to not have missed or be blotted out, to continue in the great moment.

The hopeful have it, not to be compared or limited, marginalized but joined in some silent underground that reasons away violence as a way out when truth and compassion succeed, which means us folk have chosen a spirit of light, forgiveness . . . right you say, like in your dreams, you say, if ever a dream would remove the barrier from your eye, your heart, that man might undo the violence, tooth for tooth, you say, it’s just the way it is, my friend.

On 9/11, one mad said, “How inhuman,” and his friend said, “all too human my friend, all too human.”

The if and when

Another day left on keeps blinking on the brain while the Goodman riff chimes. The water is cool, the fragrance of the South East breeze down the pipes, the bottle gurgles, lips wet. If and when he’s gone, will anyone wonder, take time to look, interested in words here or anywhere, or then just pack it up and stow it? No cloud, no blog post, no auditorium of souls remembering, just an obit, the eventual shoe print in gravel rain will soak away, unrecognizable. Would the cul-de-sac recall his morning shadow as he strolls one last time, cup in hand, for the wood shed half empty, half full.

The Solomon Seal buzzed in the grey light, a bee bumbling for pollen. Maybe that is all we are, or less, like bees bumbling for purposes we imagine, even less a forager than once when digits were eager to meet berries and the Cecropia caterpillar was found.

Remember what you’d miss, were it whisked away one afternoon in the lucky time sunshine, and the anamnesis of childhood plays your sepia tone twilight. Those smoke bush leaves glow in the parting sun as a kaleidoscope through limbs and leaves descending, turning those red leaves to bright amber then back to shadow, evidence of the turning world. Breath the end of May’s evening air traded with the grateful green.

His thoughts had been cynical. He told himself he was becoming misanthropic in his sense of pointlessness but his heart lifted when he saw the bunting and the cardinal. People could be such asses and he had to be crazy, too, but then, unable to tell anyone the difficulty, at least he had not expressed his frustration with Laurie. He felt that might be nobler, delay confrontation, if the disappointment didn’t take hold, especially if he didn’t know if it was he or she. There is always equal blame to go around.


My father fell from the bed. With a loud, but cushioned thud against the carpet, that seemed to make all the walls of the room pulsate, he fell onto the floor, now hacking, and gasping.

My mother slid across and jumped off the bed, and with her feet on the floor now, too, grabbed and tried to lift my father’s arms up with her own, attempting to help bolster his entire body up.

‘Duo-duo, come help!’ she yelled.

I had propped myself up on the bed on my left elbow, staring at them. I froze for a second. Just then, my head seemed completely empty of all thought and emotion. I was certain, I am certain, that for a second, or even for just a split-second of a second, it was as if someone, outside the window of our hotel room, had pointed a remote control directly at our room, at my father, my mother, and me, at the beds, still quavering from our movements, at the sheets dangling off the corner of the beds, at the palpitating walls, at the dust whirling through the ray of light of the lamp, and hit pause . . .


by HC Hsu from Middle of the Night


You get on.

You don’t see me.

You take the seat two rows in front of me.

I see your backside, the back of your head, your dark brown, somewhat frizzed and wavy hair. For some reason, I don’t tap you on the back, or your shoulder (I see you turn around—surprised, smiling, your eyes sparkling, an underwater cavernous limestone blue—‘Hey, when did you get on?’ you ask, and try to stand up as you jolt forward, your body leaving your seat, as you find a way to balance yourself and move toward me)—but I stay still, and we remain where we are.

I watch you. I don’t see your face. It’s a strange feeling, as if I were no longer me, or were somewhere else completely, or I had simply disappeared, evaporated, from here and now. It occurs to me I had never up until then, seen you. In your completeness.

In your solitude.

I wonder what you are like without me.

Yourself plus the world minus me.


by HC Hsu

from Middle of the Night, a book in the works to appear from Deerbrook Editions sometime in 2015
also author of Love is Sweeter, http://lethepressbooks.com/

He also has a translation of Chinese dissident and 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo’s official biography coming out in 2015 by Rowman & Littlefield.