Four New Poems From My Current Collection “Holly & Hemlock”


See through death –
– oh, there you go:
New bones prancing upon the old.
A foreign wangling of joy
The skeleton tried to recall
(Celestial trumpets peal
Like silk in elapsed ears)
“We can take care of our own here” –
The capillaries and rivulets
With Source-aerie sparkling still.

The sun on the leaves today
Could make a barn-burner cry
Or street man sing or do magic
or swim all the streams
as Heaven slowly unlocks her fire.

But high on those wood-roads
The duchess of leaves is dying
The dryads of ease are hiding,
Enshrouded by Maeve’s hair & bones.

In the stern beds of the past
Cold queens did scoff and gasp,
And lift lanterns to indoor skies
Of future-guessing eyes.
Silent fire dropping down
Still descends on amnesiac lands –
Children swimming the confused waters:
Angry sons and cloying daughters,
Wondering where to shine their light.


Fire Island

I am the King of Siam.
I am Johnny Appleseed,
making fertile the tired land.
I am all the great and forgotten poets
And I am a fire in which you cannot believe
Nor quantify; that is so.

Yet here on my island does my flame
Disappear nightly into the sea’s claim.
Twined in shadows, I may restore
Because I am ready for the moon.
I contain the world in my
Submerged heart, and in my
Laughing wilds, twinned, parlayed
On such difficult shores.

Where my sip of eternity
Was as bitter as it was alive;
Where I thank all your arms
Showing me the way
Through busy twilight
Toward the high strength
Of towering mornings.



Probed bounty had a sun
Sidled in pods of leaf –
The needed stain then splashed where
Life crawled expanses of green.
So massed was root of take, as I
Held it to my breast, life total;
And was cat-groove to what
Young table brought us through:
A sheaf of epoques where music
also swam & smiled heroic
A priori to what now defines,
But could the crimson cap truly see?
Where I walked in padded age
The archetypes spreading clichés
And romantic epiphany becoming passé?

Where a man in his currents blows
Howing a world dark in its shows
Identity of how he goes a-where
To come to this or that shore or share;
Could an electric beast sing in its times
Of things unknown he says must be?
Wilds of good could you, stepped along
In the courage of colors meant to spend us long?
The guest o’ little time
Has finally been let through…


Intifada du Jour

Stay in country – see
How wicks of wonder light up for thee!
Observe how freely the air bides
In darkening time where you need no license
Or name or rhyme. Mountebanks have fled!
Scoped in murmur riding their asses & jackals
to where warm hammers glow.
Bright regions rise and collapse
In the time it takes to breed an asp
(in the unshorn grove there is an answer)
But how do fallen seasons grow?

The stately stream is steered
by wolf-habitude (true)
In the seedy ranks we devalue.
The trustless fob, curling his lying trap
Squirms as the human fog burns off.
No Marys of “The Way”
Need virginal to be;
What’s left is churchless sanctity
& now coffins for songs like black hearts,
Gold-buckled, lay like dead soldiers
In powder-blue sarcophagi
And unfettered calm.

Somewhere sick and empty feels
A girl or planet or camel or eel
Where beheadings feed the trauma’d ground
And old shadows twine and reel.
The sour door now craves an entrant
And echoes such a child, my child –
In coming rooms like I just yelled
Across a golden canyon, and does
Grandmother-sight give bells to this wisdom?
Her private vicissitudes have branches, too.
(My naïve years having broken the ruse)
Where crescent moons stabbed thunderous sides
And calamity aches in closets denied.

A burst of woody care
wears before us the Atman that dared!
Laden with death-church flare,
My pink-fingered joy deepens the room.
Where the laughing brook washed me to center,
A home, youthful zeal trimming the
Wings of awe, amongst novel treasures.
Today, the escapes were internal measures.

Flushed down the mother-delta
Into a florid garden gone to pot
Where vision scorns power-abuse
In the battle to proffer the altar abstruse,
I opened my windows to October’s
Banners, the colors of a dying world
Just beginning: annihilate the poison
Spew on lake-cirque trek, oak-hewn
as cask arrives to ferment our libation
Of truth. Hale and home-grown are the wares
Of our eternal health, and strong are the bowers
That grow our germens’ stealth.

Love is a many-creatured thing
Solaced in a tarn of Spring;
My soft engine beats
In a relish of vigor
Where this darkness remakes me
In Quixotic rigor.

Is this the very structure of joy?
As again the axe of evil hits me
And I swing the wand ‘round
And exculpate them from the realm.
Once more, can you sense their collective
Perishing, that their shadows can stand no more,
And that only the bubbling love-light pours?
This, the place where infant gladness restores?

What good, then, if your:

Books are balanced
Insurance’s paid up
Mortgage is paid up
Vacations booked
Yard is trimmed
Taxes are paid up
Church-tithes given
Cupboards are filled
Charities are gifted
Friends gathered ‘round the punchbowl
Cubicles & homes are nice & tidy…
…if your freedom, dreams and children are lost?


chris robideaux, new poems, poetry

Song of an August Sea-Gale


Ancient intrigues spill their jars into the staggering sea;
My foaming blood bubbles up from earthen spring.
As fishermen drink away their troubles at the Sea Hag;
The crashing sea at our window serenades our wanderlust.

Tigers prowl for escape among the jetties and the capes
Donning their misty crowns, forgetting petty apes
Their vulgar homage;
A man in a darkened doorway chastises his dog
As I roll the nautical highway wearing night’s corsage.
The gull’s stark morning greeting is delicate custom,
As Ondine’s moons resound off the storm-riven cliffs
That beckoningly rumble.

You stood there, looking serious-faced at the sea,
Just like the nautical wanderers who’ve gone before thee.
But the sea hag, jealous of your beauty, turned your love
Into a watery leviathan, and now my days are spent
Wandering the whale-spouting vistas listening for your


All night the howling gale did pound and thrum
Like Thor’s hammer upon nail or human drum.
The stolid ground, though a-tremble,
cradled still the coastal vales; as all day, still
it kept on, the tempest, and sandblasted
were our faces at Neskowim, the falling branches
on the highway showing the peril, where we
put our whims at risk, though feral; and rode
the nautical ranges – the breakers spraying
fifty feet high over the precipices above…

We cut short our after-lunch drive when the
Sea-witch, angered, swept us from beach and roadway,
Now to rest back upon Arch Rock,
Arrested in our wandering ways.

All night the raging gale did our dreams assail –
Only now calming in late afternoon to assay
The land-lubbing sea-gazers who on the
Roiling whitecaps do stare, to see if the
Salty spume’s blowsy signature’s from the deep’s
Leviathans fair.

Now streaked, our window on the briny churn
With saline tears that cloud the ephemeral turn;
Now have guests of the sea-witch wandered;
Now found they rest upon the pounding surf
Unhindered. Where portly dowagers and their doggies,
Asian families and angry-looking men vie for a table,
A room, a lane in summer’s bosom to gaze from;
In these nautical nests the chaotic tides
Never given their rest or absolution.

The vestal virgins of the sea, green-blooded and free,
Scare away any threatening fang or poisoner’s glee,
That may etiolate this Neptunian estate,
Leaving stark eyes to contend with this
Thrashing torrent, wave and rock to battle it out
With the late question: which kingdom doth
Move the globe when man’s hands have
Muddied the elements up to Jove?

I go out once again to listen for your song…

Nine Eleven Dream

Tigers in a sea of shadows

Stalk my aging pride,

Pull me on an ageless tide,

In a twisted town square

Thick with human bustle.

I ride in circles, squares, games

That shuffle lives like a Tarot deck,

But the dark-striped cats never attack.


I ride from the department store

Where I’d spied my grandfather

Bopping to the beat of Michael Jackson,

Still as he was, in a red shirt,

Sitting in his wheelchair, as

Tigers in the town square prowl

Our sick bustle, attacking only fear

As our animal needs vanish.


Tragedy’s anniversary receives

En masse the gift of life;

I stand at the kitchen window

And pray the cabal be stripped of its knives.

My own cat flees –

A kiss must appear grotesque

To those without lips.

Apollinaire’s words bled onto the page,

His demure face unready for war,

His hands read by drunken eyes.


Chief liar plugged in bloated dead-rat dream,

stained meme of bribery home –

The sun never stops a gleam:

No stump speeches, no shortfalls

Or pittances couched and handily emptied.

Christs of free consciousness

Traipse lakeshadow artery

caressing absolution, their

Hermetic pools poised across archaic shelf

obliterators of human failure,

idleness’ sigils razed I instead breathe

Bounty, leisure, abundance

As the pogrom’s fancy dies.

Bones of browning skin rattle

With high parking lot comers, claiming

Their piney estate in mute pleasure.


Hums the bird-clock galvanic –

Would it carry place-name truth of you,

Where life truly stays?

Words held in rare head

Where singular mouth flurried

Need no slumbering list to test the air.

Dada of space wonder,

Consul of a wanton game,

Memory’s circus ballroom’s gutted,

But the blood never forgets.

Someone’s decade knelt down;

Another one’s tumbled.

Vicar of cool cause,

Leaded footprint of game show gods,

Empires of wood-paneled rises,

Summer lawns fed with shrewd claw-bits;

Turtlenecked desire once wore you where

The snug epoch was parsed.

No delay of your fished northern veins –

Years piled on years long have held out

That green car for you.


Acquisition’s tiled halls may re-seed

broken hives of commerce, but

Still-knot a forgiven cowboy who acts out

The starry dream for applause:

Poise of wondrous-bosomed airs

Dawn with peace in bombarded lairs

(But the himbamädchens go on singing)

When the addled race rabbits the spoils

Hymns cover the forgotten hills –

Colors just beginning to dazzle

Fallen from ambitious wound,

Led into bourgeois galleries

Glutted by status garages and minds –

Usurpers, we, have conquered the land.

Our actor-hero-TV leaders say so,

Time’s holo-cognate dubs silly children slaves.

Nowhere to run from what the moon craves.

Reach with epochal stabs to gain higher signals,

As is spread the general breach like pâté

while criminals police you. Read:

  1. List of Depression-era actor salaries
  2. List of NY train disasters
  3. List of most dangerous animals
  4. Richest bankers in heaven
  5. Top 10 brightest galaxies


Copies of haloes handed out as Hollywood awards;

Tintype of “most evil woman” shows her

Blued with smiling devilry, her “red child” running.

Dolorous spin of earth has Okinawa flutes lamenting

& New York summers already packing up the chairs,

When hardly a Tuesday can woo us,

No love in the afternoon for the poor American.

Hoggish schemers wear fiscal futures like

Girdles or gridiron teeth.

Museum of the A-bomb recreates the blasts

Of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Unholy Trinity

Every Tuesday and Thursday at 1 and 3pm;

America entire attics of fluff & diversion,

time to kill the wolves in your henhouse.

Time to sober God up & fertilize the

Hidden gardens, gold patches,

trade the Nazi in for vector of truisms.

Whence bulleted real heroes,

Bombast of destiny camera’d, come we

Buffalo & obelisk.


Diner car gutted, Detroit industry graveyard,

Fake-tree towers upon skyline ridges

Felling you, now

Does this great gut cry out for hara-kiri?

Floors all clean, plates all stacked,

Now call for Superman, for God has been

Drowned in our blood – revive!

Vertigo muscle retracts you,

Strawmen in sackcloth preach

Till snowflake vacancies

Deride them with new dreams.

What I mean is stop thinking

& scent your inner fire.

Our blue Montmartre is far too serious,

Vagabonds maintenant carry derelict bones

Through Purgatory’s necropolis

Whilst trivia gilds temples for corporate oblation.

Cotillion eating feral canyon graphology,

Scrubbed by mafia banks,

You are red man’s hell.

You are expiry of the primal bid.

Your tiger escorts are here

To usher you to the seas of eternal shadow.


– September 11-12, 2014

Holly and Hemlock (Title Piece of My Current Poetry Collection In-Progress)

Cognate multiplicitous – o narrative of everything

Which we can psychically see into – across beyond before

As I stand here on fragile breaths, the fleshy door

I can invent sight-story-saying, gentle mirth

Destroyed, but playing – just salvage something –

Anything. What do you want to know?

With the fur and arms that come springing,

Bearing the idol of this portion’s idea, gesticulating,

A convent for vagabond urges,

The mother of silence retrieves her ghosts;

Groves of the pied phantom ring the seasons’ bells

Affrighted by such unorthodox hells,

Such a tangled matrix we weave

When first we practice to believe;

Station where love itself deceives

Yields flowers we’d not oft receive.

We all suffer each other madly – Family,

Mother envies waifish daughter,

Daughter adores, then scorns the mother;

Father resents them both for smothering

His manly pleasures. Around this

grows a knotted web – spider’s moss,

grafted laconic limbs on august trees –

Her lover, her fortune, her grasp of things;

What we think is, and what really is –

Retreat to symbiance of fantasy-dibs,

Sink in delusion quagmire,

Hide in privations, differentiate desires…


We split our differences & infinitives

And leave with magic in the can

When once enjoined on such a unified

March became the direst of opposites

To lurch into the gold sea. When cat-leap

mousers would trample the sample-prize

For the getting of the monarch’s eyes.

To gain o many windows in porphyry of shadows.

Why did I awake thinking of Constantinople?

I channeled a Timbuktu shaman

In candle-and-bath chanting transcendence;

Semahib is no longer the unknown god,

But is now the god of all known things, too.

As well, sensations, feelings, places, insights.

Like Dick’s god of “the trash in the alley,” it is a

Palpable, direct god of causation, modality,

OUR primary action and effect.

The wonder gained – when thunder reigned:

A pinhole price guaranteed, though waived;

What is genius but an opened way, or

One who has opened a way forth from this

Sticky chaos? A real-mass relation – old disaster footage

(why in this elation disastrous thoughts

Raising their chicken heads?) O, foible!

Thump private hurricanes, hum-bull wave

Of fettered knot twined human time –

Was this the Gordian Knot at last severed?

The great secret opened, the genie and the djinn,

The spy of grieving fluff begin – even nostalgia

Becomes obsolete when hatred has destroyed

Our streets, such fleets, that withered in rust’s empire.

Ovarious versedit, versea

Ahoy the marble sea

My joys flung across cold worlds:

Cabbage would the ample bean.

What am I supposed to do with all these bourgeois scenes?

Progenitory wastage dropped me blind, see.


I weep for Birdie Africa!

O weep for Birdie Africa!

The massacrists removed his smile

Like Nazi dentists extracting a (good) tooth.

May the Osage fires forever burn beneath your beds!


Home what beds and water

Assay these rooms a gentle slaughter

Fill a dell, fee ya, brotherly love

By fell enmity cracked, random lives,

Not mine”.

– Who won the game of hives?

Madame X installs a piano in your squirming

Conscience, forestall kicks and skull flounce,

Bulldoze them out.


Houses of the dead sit beneath winter’s sky,

Yesterday the lookers high, Spring looming

As youth espies or dies or flies

back to Parnassus or Boetia – heavy color flares –

The only subtraction is death, or abstraction,

Distraction. Girl in mauve Lafayette necropolis

Tosses care like corset to the ground.

Confession time: “I want you to be beautiful” –

Between the tombs they search the parochial

Sky, man’s prisons, God’s lie, but through

Morning’s glory are they revived from the

Tombs of ignorance. Never the same sky twice.

Twice the pearl to leaden dice. Twice and thrice

went straight to his head.


Sky smoke of what you kneel beneath,

the blue – “fortune over soul” died

Where the Hellenist walked the wasteland,

wastewater, wasteair, wastefire…


This mass wants a heart to listen

This heart’s mass thins and thickens

Where rake meets loam and April smiles;

We plunge forth with our desires

As simple as to till the mulch-soil

And secrete the earthen glands –

This mass wants our starry hearts to

Feel real – not weigh the burry chaff –

Let it go, it says, “This Way to the Sun!”

Up the road, raking the loam, brushing

Earth’s hair, unsullied the sown, and

climb the cherry again !

I put the weed back that cried its denizens’

Shady sum; and apple boughs got first water

The bright, dry day has snakes coiling in the hedges;

Someday’s amorous mass clings along

These songs and travails (not trivial)

Seeding hieroglyphs to challenge our wrongs.


My barrow is the year, dumped in hallowed

Grounds, fewer, though, than the grievous

Rounds this torn dream makes. Daimonic!

To venge a cur for mournful rakes,

so must it be. A mother recalled emptily,

unto infinity.

Upon what?

All night the crested fledge o’erflew peace.

Please, peace my bosomed nest.

Tadpole ponds waited all winter to undress.

What happened? To your vest?

The kingdom’s besters all sharp, abreast.

Remember O child has scented best

Its storms and vales blest.

I recall the tigers and the japes, wounds –

Summer crowds and singalong blues.

Jet expansion of a tech-world housed,

Keepers of the keepers keep them unaroused.

Hail the new bees!

For ‘tis in the springdirt I get my bare feet

Expending strengthful under the new day

And within its heart so many of these

Wings chasing to neighbor’s bonfire

Pow-wowing –

My place for the day, softly.

Poppies (Elegy for Philip Seymour Hoffman)

I just thought of you last week in Synechdoche
Pudgy master of your craft
As a tender thread of mortality
Hung in the background of rooms that laughed
And held your sagacious girth, flood and ebb
At to-dos of the cause celeb
Where you disappeared like words.
Your portico was too narrow
So you hid from view what some might dread
Or masked it as you paced your stages bled,
Your grim swagger desperate.
Was it that you thought none’d understand?
Cut off, but all the same cut in?
Who would break your heart upon a wheel
Of doubt where they might feel
Your imprimatur of inner pain let out,
Our screens never wizened without?
But, a season of disgrace unseen upon you
Steered you well down esteem’s blowsy ponds.
On uncanny screens we watched you grow,
Maturing gradual into your most natural role,
But Ixion’s wheel tired you
And Midas’ gold laid his vigor low.
And now to write no part for you,
No further frame scene and shown,
Sorrows the muses and I –
A part so languorously broken
Into naked emotion could un-vex the
Jaded eye.
And you lived among the stone hearts
And smiles where your blistered kingdom
Bled –
Yet live on thus, the many parts have defined
Your Thespian bed.
Your soul’s bellowing cherub has now
Flown to Purgatorio or Parnassus,
Or forever to haunt cinema’s vaulted lapse
Monsieur, oh golden character at long last
Now filled with the ambrosia
You in private doses sought, sing!
Sing to Valhalla, Give me all your dreams!

I just thought of you last week,
And mentioned you aloud,
And here, self-freed, on day of “bowl game”
And mid-season shadow seen,
You take your final curtain call
And your sudden leave.
Poppies of painless rest now must
Molder and weep,
Where our stages have been emptied
Of your keep;
Poppies that once succored you
Bow their heads in grim review
Of your vestige divorced from worlds undue.
Poppies that in sun-drenched fields
Grew high
Whose sad seeds stirred, and by your
Hidden heart imbibed,
Settle now with you in the guiltless tomb
Of filmic light.

Poetry from a Dream: Making Sense Through Art and Creative Analysis

It is a subject which has, by all reckoning, gone largely unexamined: our nightly dreams and how their analysis or recognition may go into making poetry and other art, as well as give us a better picture of ourselves. But, while many have expostulated upon “dreams,” a la ambitions or aspirations, very few have really made a definitive, authoritative study on this subject. It is the express purpose of this study to remedy that in as substantial a manner as possible.

Any “definitive” study notwithstanding, the long human record of the connection between the dreaming mind and art speaks for itself. The Aboriginal people of Australia made petroglyphs of dream-like, otherworldly figures thousands of years ago – a time they call “Dreamtime”. Indigenous peoples around the globe during this same timeframe have made dream-like art, and have inscribed hieroglyphics and other writings that seem to suggest some kind of “digesting” of dreamed visions. But this is yet another broken bridge between the man of eons past and today’s modern human, who generally hasn’t the time for such whimsicalities as dream interpretation – let alone putting their dreams into verse form. This is a true shame. Because, if ever a species needed intensive (and creative) dream analysis – we are it. But the very push and aims of modern life obviate such empowering things as self-knowledge – otherwise its paradigm of complete exploitation of humanity, the earth, and our natural resources wouldn’t be able to rage on unchecked, unquestioned, unabated. But, I digress.

Poets and artists have a special channel we’re tuned into; we get to drink from the fount of self-knowledge already by being able to create art from the relatively mundane (and less so) aspects of our lives. It seems a most obvious, natural (and preternatural) link – dreams and poetry – though there exists in the artistic record many more visual representations than written ones, of the dreaming brain and its art-making capacity. So, the question then becomes – Why isn’t there more poetry directly hewn from the dreaming mind?

Poe, Coleridge, and Baudelaire proffered their fantastical and phantasmagoric dream imagery. John Berryman compiled his magnum opus The Dream Songs over a decade-long period (perhaps the best representative collection of quotidian, journal-like verse taken from dreams). Jack Kerouac wrote the passages in his Book of Dreams upon immediately awakening, and sometimes in a not-fully-awake state with his dreams still fresh in his head, as he says in the Preface to the Book, “When I woke up from my sleep I just lay there looking at the pictures that were fading slowly like in a movie fadeout into the recesses of my subconscious mind”. The metaphysical and Romantic poets wrote from or about dreams (though with Epic themes dressing them up with high drama, thus losing the more personal aspect). Langston Hughes’ two poems, “Dreams,” and “A Dream Deferred” come up repeatedly when searching for “dream-themed” poems, yet these deal more, again, with “keeping the dream alive,” meaning aspirations, not about our physical, REM-dreaming mind.

So, let us ask, then: What does creating poetry from our dreams do for us – both writer and reader alike? The answer can only be therapy for the writer, and a fuller, more intriguingly personalized picture painted for the reader. Perhaps there will be an element of therapy for the reader, too, if they are receptive and tuned-in enough. Creating poetry from one’s dreams must, then, be seen as the ultimate form of therapeutic analysis of one’s inner, higher, and symbolic self.

Lynn Emanuel writes in this vein directly from a dream in “Dream in Which I Meet Myself”:

Even the butter’s a block of sleazy light. I see that first, as though I am a dreary guest come to a dreary supper. On her table, its scrubbed deal trim and lonely as a cot, is food for one, and everything we’ve ever hated: a plate of pallid grays and whites is succotash and chops are those dark shapes glaring up at us. Are you going to eat this? I want to ask; she’s at the stove dishing up, wearing that apron black and stiff as burned bacon, reserved for maids and waitresses. The dream tells us: She is still a servant. Even here. So she has to clean our plate. It’s horrible to watch. She pokes the bits of stuff into her mouth. The roll’s glued shut like a little box with all that sticky butter. Is this all living gets you? The room, a gun stuck in your back? Don’t move, It says. She’s at the bureau lining up bobby pins. Worried and fed up I wander to the window with its strict bang of blind. My eyes fidget and scratch. And then I see myself: I am this dream’s dog. I want out.

There is a potent ambiguity here: is the author meeting a future self, modeled on a mother-figure? Who is the “her” in “her table”? Is the author seeing a detached, dissociated self – an ”other” she cannot relate to, which in the end she understands must be either herself or a reflection thereof? This is a poignant example of approaching one’s self in dream versification and scrying by syntactical crystal ball just who and what we may be – and why.

Here is another example of dream-based poetry, utilizing specific imagery from my own REM sleep, over two nights in July of this year:

Through the Chaopticon


The chaos of my brain dreams the wildest things;

It is rare if I can make hide or hair

Of the Vaudevillian panoply in my brain stirring:

The recurring mega-malls and false hometown lairs;

And last night – scavenger-hunt golfing

On an indoor course in hospital-complex,

A struggle with younger brother to share

Time, meaning, life, but thrown from leisurely

Care, to run through future antiseptic corridors

Split apart in some Logan’s Run-Brave New World

Casual nightmare, errand-running fugue,

Logic-bare. “We left our clubs against the wall

On the course…we must get back at once lest

Thieves get there” was my cry, but material

Things fell away, and the “course” became

A far greater game than waking life could say.


Dream of green eyes changing to blue

The more as thoughts of love would rule;

Then a flash, and up beyond they flew

To put eyes in the sun for you.

Here, the first section, with its filial and situational specificity contrasts greatly with part two and its more symbolic, compressed expression of dream imagery and pathos. The poem can be seen as a deliberate dichotomy in this vein, concerning the range of possibilities in poetic dream versifying.

And, there are a number of ways one can go about approaching “mining” one’s dreams for poetic and artistic material. There is, say, the purely rhetorical-analytical, utilizing no purely somnolently-inspired tropes for one’s poetic construct, and instead writing a la “What is real?” or “What is my dream saying, or presenting to me?”; there is the “direct image transfer” method, i.e. taking an Imagistic or aesthetic  approach, and describing only what was seen by the mind’s eye; there is the “visceral-effective” approach as well, which would consider only the feelings or emotions provoked by the dream. Leave it to the poet-dreamer to add whatever level of self-analysis s/he deems necessary for the poem in each of these approaches.

And, what do, say, Coleridge’s poems tell us about the dreams and visions he experienced – as well as about their habitually self-medicating author prone to soliciting Morpheus as an oracle (other than pointing out his addictive personality)? Let us take Kubla Khan as a seminal example of a poet writing from a dream or somnolent vision (however edulcorated by imbibing “anodyne” substance). The first several lines from his 1797 celebration of the Mongol ruler’s summer pleasure palace built in the 13th century are thusly rendered:

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan

A stately pleasure-dome decree :

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran

Through caverns measureless to man

Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground

With walls and towers were girdled round:

And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,

Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;

And here were forests ancient as the hills,

Enfolding sunny spots of greenery

Here, Coleridge expounds on a halcyon desire to reach (or at least wonder at in versification of) a certain Valhalla, or Elysium Fields, though presumably without the inconvenience of crossing the Styx first. Mixing this desire for a Shangri-La while inscribing his own cave walls with the glyphs and tropes of earthly perfection, this is not so much self-analysis from the deep REM dreaming brain than opium visions moving the poet’s rapt, intoxicated head and hand. Nevertheless, there is a kernel of self-analysis contained within this (and many other of) Coleridge’s works. It’s not hard to imagine the poet imagining himself as the Khan, or even as his successor, roaming endless Xanadu-hewn landscapes as a welcome alternative to the growing ecological threat of an industrialized England.

An excerpt from a treatise called Tibetan Dream Yoga says, Dreams are a significant part of our life. They are as real and unreal as life itself. Dreams are extremely personal – and transpersonal, too. Our dreams are a reflection of ourselves: in dreams, no matter how many characters appear, we meet ourselves. Dreams are mirrors to our soul. They can help us to better understand ourselves, our world, and the nature of reality. Dreams introduce us to other dimensions of experience. Here, time and space are much more liquid and plastic; they can be shaped and reshaped almost at will. Dreams hint of other worlds, other lives. They are a glimpse of our afterlife. Everyone dreams, although not all dreams are remembered equally. Fifty-six percent of Americans have had a lucid dream – that is, a dream in which one is aware that one is dreaming. Twenty-one percent say they have a lucid dream once a month or more. Meditators report vividly clear, self-aware dreams weekly and even more often.

From another part of the same work: The Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu dreamed he was a butterfly. Upon awakening, he wondered whether he was a man who had dreamed he was a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was a man. Chuang Tzu’s musings highlight a fundamental truth: life is like a dream. But he was not the first, surely, to have philosophized upon the meaning of their dreams, though his dream of being a butterfly is an obvious symbol of transformation – something with which all poets and artists are intimately familiar when changing visions and symbols into palpable and accessible art forms, as they sense themselves profoundly transformed.

John Berryman, 1965 Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Dream Songs examined himself ruthlessly in verse, in the poetic character of one Henry, a beleaguered soul addled by too much drink and transgression who tries on many disguises both in dreams and waking life. Berryman “hides” in the character of Henry in order to reveal himself to the world, naked and in a drunken howl of protest, soothsaying and disgust, e.g. in Dream Song 132:

A Small Dream

It was only a small dream of the Golden World,
now you trot off to bed. I’ll turn the machine off,
you’ve danced & trickt us enough.
Unintelligible whines & imprecations, hurled
from the second floor, fail to impress your mother
and I am the only other

and I say go to bed! We’ll meet tomorrow,
acres of threats dissolve into a smile,
you’ll be the Little Baby
again, while I pursue my path of sorrow
& bodies, bodies, to be carried a mile
& dropt. Maybe

if frozen slush will represent the soul
which is to [be] represented in the hereafter
I ask for a decree
dooming my bitter enemies to laughter
advanced against them. If the dream was small
it was my dream also, Henry’s.

The answered riddle of the Sphinx, “Know Thyself” cannot be better enacted than by the recognition and analysis of the play-acting of our dreaming mind. Granted, dreams are nebulous and oft impenetrable territory, and, like meditation, require a dogged discipline in order to fully reap their rewards. It is my strong contention that dream analysis should be taught in schools early on, so that we may be more fully self-realized people, and at the very least encouraged to do so, to counteract environments that end up divorcing us from our highest selves. It almost seems a taboo idea (especially in the western world), this far-flung notion of deeply probing one’s self in order to understand our true essences. Or, perhaps the western world has, or institutions within said world, have been deliberately created (or, gradually devised) so as to have our true natures hidden from us. It certainly has seemed to allow the imperialistic powers that be to have much more power wielded over us. If knowledge is power, then ignorance of our core and true selves is a terrific amount of power transferred – to those who don’t share our best interests and exploit that unawareness at every turn.

But, once again, I digress.

Our dreams exist to make sure we know who we are by showing us our true selves. They are also here, by way of adjunct effect, to prompt our creative impulse in a kind of redirect loop. There is no intrinsic difference, then, between the nightly dreaming mind that is preternaturally expressive and our waking poetic (or painterly, sculpting, crafting, etc.) hand. It is simply that we are in a waking state as opposed to unguarded, nocturnal seeing through the mid-brain’s observatory lens into the higher realms.

And, how do we know we are reading the result of the author’s or painter’s dreams, directly? Does it matter that much? Are specifics on this point less important than the alchemy involved in creating a vision of self which others may wonder at and become provoked by, and know both the artist (and themselves) by? C.S. Lewis said that we can mistake dreams for visions, but never visions for dreams (or perhaps it was the other way around?). One is oracular – a visitation – and one stems from our drowsing mind playfully and gregariously seeking to make sense of the world – and our being in it.

Poetry and art exist, then, in part, as a creative-analytical vehicle by which to comprehend our higher selves’ purposes and revelatory expressions. This has been borne out throughout recorded history. Supernal examples can be found in religious and Renaissance art; Romantic and metaphysical poetry; the cave paintings of Lascaux and Alta Mira, as well as those of indigenous peoples around the world; perhaps even the monuments built by emperors and kings, a la the Great Pyramids. Kubla Khan himself doubtless acted upon his certainly magnanimous and motivating dreams, and so perhaps Xanadu was itself created as a work of art from a dream – thereby speaking across centuries to another ephemeral dreamer who re-inscribes the works of fellow enraptured souls caught on this airy canvas trying to figure out where we are and should be, but at the very least celebrating the beauty of the setting as we seek ultimate understanding of just who we are.


Ovtha simming chords attractors leave one very coddled behind,

the psychic knocks to take. She too. A lad of view parries thru. Cut the lavender

a wry bees-for-weeks tarried. Curried a sex throb morn in darkened day,

august still. Hush a thorn. Drown your wish best hest thrown a flurry of

dawns grew up hot to crown our crowns with much to light spilling: out,

over, in – to melt our ageless wings of care. And the forry of pantaloum in

blousy shirts of Om did write a daylude hatted as pears’ll fall and all.

When the darkclouded bester spheres come to lightdance dark a rainy

Shade. A taker of skin and giver of plain. I sureshade knot did quiver the strings

After the beastless hymn moved wedded in flesh. Then, crawling in a bestial

Flow was the best eye we cravers shed.  Often busty lines are said. Things.

And others. This and that – O say. We cornered luck in her den and called a

Karma new. So new can it be true? And we clommed in a fine vine we trine!

Where hat to coat and save brain but say the upvoice no to downland frays.

If often notes o fave could entry save I can climb through this mind of many

Trayvons & where could make war will – I unplug.


In the vetters fall such magic rugs dreamof & lofted did galaxy ride. One two hide four five play seven highs nine flies – skevvers fielded round the town again go, mazey rat show with trees. Here? Switzamerica blest, confess. “There’re hicks here, too,” says she & the agreed on worm tricks the sky. Where ignorants come agape & stare do same rough roads burn wasty engines on where once princely HU-man rots dingles totters to dough. Sung with these sylphs & glyphs instead head-won’t-blow said O seeded givers tranced. In the full, beggars pain belifted O say once I am saved. (No, not by the hanged man re-arranged.) Say by the rain or blue jays or plumpfruited glades – anything! Courageous gray and inkling of played notes rave and swarm of woman dangles the flay (to owe once who uptime flounced) in the raintease clay-a-more new Augusts fritter say  fay shades more leisure walls unmissed & the obsessive lake-in-mind when child once free & torpor belimned the undestroyed day (shivved gusher blank bid)!


Could he story the sun earth water winter in with momdad frid and drove to cradledwater sounds pollen frigate yellowed season where lake flipped over and so did boy tumbled into man…what? No lakefree always kingdoms cartwheel like this? What this world is unbeknown flembeknot none of us could. And then of pretzeldreams say what and why. And the verrious cooms did vim the sights of what we to do and did. Nothing. & the vergoplum roots a neighborly share of the fruits: allsearch for answers where in the late adept face where escapers mungle. She a food run frid. Moon awaits on night to sit. Flyslow close O enemy wound where enterers wanted none, heave one. Extenders fogaboded emlow know: perfumaroles pilgrimage not this time. Awakers voded slow to unmake pain & lube pleasurepalace sot. Better with a panful blue + setters mot. The face for what did & where we be call kletters to unsoup sip a plot. Choppers constant to cluck a grave way. Dressed for the plot Amerikan founder said eat less live longer. Yes I frayed & bestyou stayed. & fooers say none breathe more keep in pranayama do. Like a graveyard for mice or wherestorm mites the sooner blest & mete with sprites. Push leaves & pay a man to cut chop rake heaveway nature’s glories for fence’s sake & humanbusy skid degree flee.


Cuv morningportion already gone on this pile of seconds called my life to miters blow real? Scoffers caused scoffins – unbelief shadowed. In what swirlwind mellows a storm apropos stoned on Calinorth silent arenas beautied stamped. For the courageless lives a wink a din a pansyman grated cheeselike rememburrs his first blows and summers vots, could a keep for ferried row bumsavaged claint bestow? In bloodravaged riversadder the fruits of nature rarer bee – in museums soon and make food appointments see if we have but Russian lines. In pressurebrain siggers sought where he a lifenormal row? Where or who to all his hymns ‘n poems tow? Erect from scribble o whims a strade for standing story of the world. It was the presshuss tones to migger the souldanceing flow and wordmake from the raucous nebulous mythoma in lodes. Could forever write if believe better ca-know a plied-by-terror ting? cat he whines now for fishsnack ways & get the teeth in safekeep munchy prize in all our deeps. Gastrick reliquary for feeps ‘n dozen leaps! Family crest in northern labyrinths burns in its fobbed keep. Silentphoto folded sorrymother could u smilereal maybe once? Once when girl wide-eyed, once when woman undied eternity’s trance unblamed. Ican stillwrite? (a gifted surely ham of page and strings, rhymes and lines.


And the firm one figger far one back out of sack still here. O life to figure what do, will or what must can. My, she rolls a chariot hers o down the spivvy canyon sounds. Piney curved rhoadkill more and more and more o urgent less consume please be. But a constant life till blind and blood no longer sea. Lifted hevvin breathless tube bee? Uknee verse will ended be a start to thee, O unscene. The seed that sprouts ne’er sees, in soil, the upper skigh and sunny whorl. Calyxes that in epic blooms do run – those are my kingdumbs, my glades where once on horses with milaydee did sun. to see life and life to be a nowing negating frave to trivver a laugh. To say a babe’s to say earth’s done? Others rank to fix a make where bibbers lone and two would rake. Changers air-rogue-ant stoppered knot unmake a self, but procreant down false roads no/n/ not. Time sits heavy on the blind while seers pay the cost. O giant heave these knots upon the deck so mad Ahab may he see, prevent dizz-astery. A stigger of the grand chew my role has form: to zig where needed zag but wait don’t keep zigging fave nest scowl-howl besty gamed. Afterimage child strange learning in a toil now to uncoil the snake & hevvers best lipped givvy up the dam, the self so blamed. Bested kept the balm of sainteddemons’ test. Now undo. For figger a farther shine and if a comfy self u leave behind, then…be liver never one seen afore to say of life a god livingnow in you, this facet best. Reflect all others as the tumblin monks would do. Bow to the ignorant eaters? “Thank you for being my teacher” thaybow and how unity to have, show the humbler way & wave off wandering ego flats. O slat of warmleaf echoes & bucket ‘o lavender on decktable provides more than ah thousand soupermarketplaces combined. So hear how fast I in the tumblemountain sighs, and rise. The outro stretched in samba slow where the weltereater manned the fathered show. Where a brook could stop you – Earth’s M.O. A bouncingmotive heady enclosed & furred fit purrfumed bloom and clow. If eye went back to halls in new clothes & pencils books and knew w/ friends cheeky droll bemused to teach the teachers would I grow? Would to feel that newgifty flow shorty embarrassed the asses with his Christed glow, but where I would merrymake bikeriding to and from and back again…a stave o’ misty years clonged unfrid trees and sea-sons parentage say how go – if adept you blondhaired came to know family hireark-I-call sapient the somedays but September would leave me orangeyellowed with sorrow…& a velge to have a moomday wolf of nothingness would hinge on treeclimb soars. Shot the sparrow and now I burn for. Velved a chiv o rightly smoked a vaf of nug. Stony in the stoner’s mug. Thought a goodfriend blood for life. To roll the summerdays by and find the magic leafybud. Stearic  end the fline of breen. Tasty in the sideways weeks months days the prince came out of hiding said what was. stares ‘n silence and hammered heavy headbanging lostways liffed! Smoked and saw music did he give, was seen a youngbrain smoky in the breen o Buddha laughless ne’er again and sprouted further veins. Chucked a flash of hash and soped the games & tricks in Comstock of the elvish players flying. Bang in your smoke lit but malish us never just funning in the epochal ever. In the fells of epic masters music-king the miles of vision N-tranced. Plugged in and drummer friend a bass then banded me out. Fine, mix the sound and tink of dough you give. Grungepipers louder than good did sink from egoheavy vains. Shunned friend all the time had talentthe more in one pluckfinger than the whole vanload in fullwail! Making more and sagacious musewick than ever decadesafter and nights that orchestrate consequence of shroudless viz-ions! Cohorts fake the door were given. Firds or fakelast grown away riven. Curb the gast of devilmuch “your friends” would hide. Now take the stage O find the songs in your hands that fell from eld-rich trees very the good. & the culls that progue you fet more sum the rain: fever re-fave, raver abstained! & the tupfloe yorst of mouths mis-youthed yergang.


Muchwell though the safety where Buddha suchness threads. Weelfelain the triggers fenced & suchness blast. Be born of the Weigh & tiredthrown the oldways slake the strain. Augusts all numbered vary the myths of time’s allowance your staying world! Ferrous bird all trouncy, how theyhunger the packs! Trellised O sine of muskers the hidden have. & seared the sallied wrath of serried space – wanton fools & fawned-upon face. Go see kressers spoil the furled & all goodworks now besters of fate face this. Suggers chouth a mythvaried waste & fought in births of clattered Mays. Sphinxy boycat longlived he in bluechair mewy models of grace! And no more mourned muddlers upsent distract from truth’s charade, where he gangly upped & prowled he the Sphinxy catboy murring the mounds. Once I sat there mourned my blithey clouds & the mirthknots glowed with our terraces of plummy doubt. That courage wakes the flout. That simmers bought the rout and fingered it out. Eiffel from our touchy viewscape gaveway to Blarney kissing realstone treads in real lands that don’t thoughtless piss on fancy or mothball delicates of frace. Seeing & knowing & saying the Irish experts all – let all Yanks learn. Why we now burn the world – in our own pyre sold to us as solution to our pornographic and unglowy yords! To stoney sake the ponied fjords, already vista’d in Patagonian flance. Yousaid and fearghosts fled. But not afore they socked a bruised leg. Polterguised veery beds? Was I steaming and bleary for none? I was all skithers of doubt but exorcising the she-demons of selfdamaged shrouds.  & long before as elfin blondkicker shast where the comeless are-key-types of being blast – hezzy O daze bestrapped. Momdad said so, in a blow, on a wing and aghast. Out in yard saw bombers high and neighbor pal stuffed dirt in this maw as payment for boorish mest. Shake we junglejim and film the mess – quakearth in emerald city west we seven-eight years odd did crest. Whoa blow these unstoppable seens & camera endless filming with the sense at seven of a chronologicalligraphic fest of self and worldmirror to pour ignored-not-tales the more and run these vales o’ path, or in basements see what is. Both sons of John, one in bossy flims on birthday 10th that fiery fall aroused such gifts. Torn from friends firm and southground turns, at nine across town might have been ah thousand miles: one foot on the Moran Prairie and one on High Drive. One caller Montana and one alpine to ski lake thrive. Bob like cotton in her waves sired, too.


Never to shake a hymnless trying, where church and state endless lying, a mothered soul lost it all though ne’er forgot the lyric-call, softing in the waftless crawl. Kids hiding in leaf-pile streets where cars I sensed the danger and then did in height of some-myrrh blackout at ten, blacken the streets completely in a time-lost fout. Seer a plumb completely where you shout! Didst the wren of lines commit? Verse t’ranged Europa plessed by light history sunk away, now folks liveright stay. Amerika the last and gassed to learn the Way. Wafty after bitter calls are the ‘winged withall’. Outly peep, scribble-scrabble do-dad-day.

Offist hiffers golden shank, destiny in deadfish breached in oily bay, sunk by beedeaths the verve to grieve our only catch. Would in ’10 say an end when up oily gash erupted earth’s jugular severed and still our reliance-fossil breaths. Zoomed to me realmemory sest that day 7-82 when tarmac slammed to my crane-hum saddened on loaded looks. Cravy top sound abound! “Do you kids love laying around in the street?” the old woman ignorant say of injured child. And spittle pooled on waking the unconscious ridedream, and rose Iran for home close teary safe upstairs frightened for meself in blackspace taste of death. Same day mother say we mountain go with a Jane to take pics for a project’s plain. Skihill summerdrove and nauseous all the way and headache from groundslam throbbed me looking. Did updrive and down, finally mothertended the boy but knew only bikefell not slept in street knocked out.

Concussed nonplused & bussed in car whilst women artful framed, then got back with my bruised brain. Where may have opened a fenestra to the Fevens, though I had the gift before that. ‘Twas my cosine exsanguinator of trilly dines. Not to rob the mooring rines. Was in time or portal out to simulation? A verrous crair of emulation? Cathode bare & bombers roared, bluespruced high & summers’ murmurs core. Did go wrong somewhere & slow. Where now the mandibular middleager sireof poems intones colorzones of pastery proud? A mythversion mastered by the only guru for my life – who now holds this pen. Vernous ven the catted hen, how hurry-curry the vacuous fen, in pergy-plated stay. Prizz-sonner hemmed and simmered to plen. Could the risen day now a holy dark upsend? Versend the plyant plea for solo fends. Sands. Upper the rainless stormimage hangs her planks of white and seas of blue, graying dimbolt retinue the glideless man on sea or cloud. On the drony node of cancontinence roughed we dibbers built a platform strange burning towers of Babel out of promises made, our storming future arrested in twin tracks oblade. Hopery played in the stormy dawns & chose words and lines bemade of rangy flows. Goodness knows a serpent, and the serpent shows. Evil knows all hellish hopes. Burn the effing palaces sworn! Burndigger the fatulous trown – for each sunswigger there’s a heartless clown.

Embattle the offing gade, we edge a proliffing probemost lay. & fowling the mourning wind was a cuckle-cadoo over the way and near astray. Soaper most is trenchantly feared? To be the dirtiest unborn smiler to rot before you. In the skyling’s dorns a dove. We blatted on and on all life’s symphony. What hummingbird’s humming flap wings zip overhead now, the lovebirds deux dogfight clown. Knotty all the faces on cherrytree feles & bibing mine tells. Would all lakes darken to the dawning truth in now’s well – that from this once rich planet lifebold foresworn now sinks in a demonology of useless ways(te)? How many lifeforms delent each day? To live on her now is an awful poem of torture and pain authored by a mad demon false arrayed. A clutch of hooks stingered the piles & blind pushed on our figgered flore. Into forests, seas, prairielands, skies and plays. Into my broken heart its lies. Vento tombless smiles & swetters viled. Went once to see & now to see no more. Morey the more and money the gore. Awake thinking of chaos reigning Earth’s habit-tats & the rodding display. Breathing couldn’t last night be, but thought of the children stricken Sudanese. And all children & persons renting ghastly lives. Fordy with a psychic wife dostblane the verchers of the coiled perlife – vem the vain and voil the hive! She stayned with stomacher pains rare to mend the gulch soft wails. Pained in the friended march could with helpmete wipe traitors from her map.

Gaia glows in stopless clat. No karmic worries will block this bat. Highest karma to the darkkilling candle! But wait we must for the planetary signal? Vest o’ burming fots. If the way to stay runs fay, it runs with Kali’s sleigh. Punch widdle the sharming feds; punch the one who your bed attacks. Kill you would the one who poisons you, your family, your home – setting fire to your castle. Bring the boiling oil to the forepeak and cast it down! Wait you not for the perfect time and place – uncertain even what it is. Instinct cures the lanes of cidal yorns. Pulls its blade and severs the head of Grendel illborn. See Grendel burning your towers, raping your children, spitting out pestilence upon your lands and heads. What now. To do. St. George took a blade sharptrue gleaming. Likewise Launcelot in ancient days of infamy aimed. A blade called Very Tor.  For the brimming envy floored we moored. Marco Polo grotted Kubla Khan much more to explore the outer doors. Fernling troddy trine deboot the prine. Veldy fotty wooks, scan free-dumb in dusty books. Would prize be realive and not in fettered story trived? Interrobang me, dine. Fine, O liars when you burn from this realm. Still warmth surrounds my poured lines’ grine fine. If belief fell to poisoners, inc.  who make careers from lies to sell you cheapmade berths.


Spatial nod greedy blab…

Wonderworn couldsay belly of days. Hinterland sacked creeds of obvious doom.


A featheredword:


And then let flow the tunic sleeves –

Let none assault this masterpiece!

And solve the years of these scowls

And golay beneath golden leaves.

Not with a woman proud as this summit –

Not with a tear blown from every eye;

Here, where the charioteer eats manna,

Here, where the everlasting forsooth would I.


But oft let us build these sunny towers;

Sluices of blood mimic alpine waters, and veinly

Shoot these rapids to delirious brain. Study, Samson,

These Herculean dreams, then ferment in your cottagebarrels

This vigor-us wine. How wave these orchards’ hands

So patient splayed, where green heavens here and now

Leave us no afeared nadir of sun and shade.


Ack, tumble bears soft from free box

Where lack’s din melts to porch the fox.


What would these rudiments of lips

Signify if we on drowning ships

Had to search for love between

The icebergs cracked and melting?

Would woe vault her icy eye

To more tropical rimes

And the dolorous scent of mordant clime

Where the bodies all line up for

Lashings from Neptune and Ra?

So-fa, so-la, Zeus pulls on

his gray beard

But leaves us so.