One night I have a dream about sex, the next night I have a nightmare. Wake up both times with a rare clarity of memory about the dream’s events. Think about writing it all down, but decide against it both times because (in the first case) I don’t want this to go down on my permanent record and (in the second case) I don’t really want to remember. But days later it’s all still in my head, all jumbled up together in the dark, pleasure and terror, both kinds of screaming. Well, I think, at least it keeps me from being unduly preoccupied with reality.
It’s two a.m., but the nightmare’s not counting. It has no logic but it’s happy to point out the flaws in mine. The mistaken inferences I draw every time anyone else speaks. The sour smell of gullibility that clings to me like mother’s milk. The stains of the berries that are native to the fool’s paradise I live in. No reason to doubt any of it, why would my subconscious lie? It knows every thought that’s passed through my mind since the first neurotransmitters leapt the first synapses, and it’s not impressed. It’s tapping my shoulder, clearing its throat, trying to get my attention politely, but none of that’s working. Like most terrorists, it only acts out of desperation.
I erase the moon
Haibun Today 6.3, September 2012
In the first dream I remember — and unlike many of my stories, this one is true — Dracula chained me in my attic. I was five when I dreamed this. Our attic was a large unfinished space that ran the length of the second floor of our house, behind the real rooms where we lived our daily lives. The attic was a shadow house, full of castoff furniture and household belongings. My younger sister and I played there all the time: Hide-and-seek, House, Scare-your-sister. It was dimly lit, and not climate-controlled: in the summer you could hardly breathe there for the heat. It didn’t scare me to be there but I had a proper respect for the place, I took it seriously. I had an unarticulated feeling that things could happen there that couldn’t happen in our house proper, that it was an alternate world full of alternate possibilities.
The details of the dream are fuzzy now but I can remember being wrapped in chains in a back corner of the attic, watching helplessly as Dracula flew in through one of the tiny windows in the form of a bat, then changed into Dracula and taunted me for my helplessness. Was Frankenstein there too? I seem to remember Frankenstein. I begged them to let me go but they wouldn’t. They wanted me to stay in that attic. I wanted to go. We didn’t come to any form of agreement before the dream ended.
the storybook’s pages
It was a nightmare, of course — I was terrified while it was going on, and shaky when I woke. But though I was so young I took it pragmatically. I knew there was no Dracula and no Frankenstein. I knew no one would chain me in my attic. I didn’t acquire any fear of the place. In fact, I may have spent more time there than ever, now that I could see what it was really good for: It was a breeding ground for stories. Some about things that could never happen, and some about things that almost certainly did.
a line of ants
walks out of it
some cross oceans
to find their dreams
and turn them into nightmares