Friday, July 20, 2012

Weird James Joyce Dream

Friday, July 20, 2012—Long Beach, CA

I had a really weird and (I think) interesting dream last night.

I was in Ireland, lying on the ground outdoors on a mild sunny day. I was reading a large book (physically large—like a coffee-table book) of poetry by James Joyce. The poems weren’t anything he’d written in real life, though—they existed only in my dream. The poems were printed on pictures of the Irish country side. As I was reading I noticed that the photo behind a poem was the exact scene that was before me—a kind of living Impressionist mountain scape, featuring lots of greens of course, but also browns, purples, and whites, under a pale blue sky. As I realize what I’m looking at my sister and I begin holding hands, while getting into to beauty of the poem, the picture, and it’s “real life” counterpart (I’m not sure if my sister was there the whole time or if she just appeared at this point in the dream). At about this point I begin to cry, tears of beauty. But a part of me is faking it; I’m putting on some sort of show, for my sister, for myself, and for others I feel are there somewhere but  where I cannot now recall.

The scene switched after this. I’m watching TV, back in the U.S., I assume. I’m watching the Charlie Rose Show, except that it’s the late 1970s and Rose has long hair (though he’s not looking all that much younger than he does today). He’s interviewing James Joyce, who in my dream universe is still alive at this late date and doesn’t look any older than his early sixties. He also doesn’t quite look like he does in the photo’s I’ve seen of him—he looks like a cross between James Joyce and Tom Waits. Rose is asking him questions about the book of poetry I’d been reading in Ireland. I’m not really hearing the questions or the answers, though (or maybe I just don’t remember them). I do notice, though that Joyce doesn’t really have a septum, that he essentially has one big nostril, which I find really fascinating and only a little gross. Joyce’s movements are very Tom Waits, very stylized semi-phony American hipster. His voice is a bit Wait’s-like too. He’s wearing one of those old-fashioned English bicycle hats, where the brim is short and connected to the top-part of the hat by a snap.

Later that morning I wake up with opening lines for a poem, a big epic poem, rolling around in my head. The poem has nothing to do with the Joyce poems, except that in my groggy state I see Joyce’s dream work having showed me the way back into my poetry, which I’ve lost touch with since 2009. Here are the lines (I think, I’m not sure what I woke up with and what might have morphed in the several hours since I got out of bed):

We have broken the seal completely

Whirl whirl          Californie whirlie whirl

and of course the cattlemen of Stockton

              understand the lumber ships in San Pedro and stacked

up across the horizon

touching Japan (Terminal Island)—

into pink dusk

summer palms

And that’s all I’ve got. I don’t think it’s particularly good. Nor do I know what if anything to do with it. But the way I arrived at it is pretty cool. Worth documenting, I think, if nothing else …


Josh Mahler said...

Depends on the title. If you offered an interesting lead-in as a title, could make it a deeper poem. Or, it could be one of those poems that exist solely within the confines of a book. Some of the pieces I write only work well when surrounded by more "accomplished" poems, which then reinforce the overall theme of the book. It's like albums/CDs...every one has album tracks, and every one has a lead single or two. Combine them and you get great music. I think Joyce makes a lot of readers loopy…if I created a literary bucket list should I add "Read ‘Finnegans Wake’" to it?

Rob Woodard said...

I've found Finnegan's Wake unreadable, but I haven't tried it in a long time.

Thanks for commenting, Josh. It's nice to know people are reading this blog.

Josh Mahler said...

Right on. This blog reminds me of an online version of Bukowski's book, "The Captain Is Out to Lunch and the Sailors Have Taken Over the Ship." I picked up a used copy at a thrift store and love it. It's comprised of diary entries focusing on the last few years of Bukowski's life, in which he talks about drinking, gambling, aging, fame, and day-to-day activities. When combined it becomes this sort of episodic narrative, a fragmented novel. A great read.

Rob Woodard said...

Thanks, that's very flattering to be compared to Bukowski.

One of my big fears about this blog is that since I don't feel I have the right to write much about my relationships with other people (it's one thing to parade my own life on line a quite another to do that with others) I've been afraid the whole thing's coming off a bit too intellectual and narrow, a bit too much about a guy lost in his own head. If you you're comparing it to "The Captain," though, that must mean I've transcended that problem at least a little bit.