From time to time, poets make cameo appearances in my dreams. Last night it was Kay Ryan. We were at a party together, and I was trying to show her how to undress and change your outfit in the middle of a public space without anyone noticing. The trick is to move very naturally, at an unhurried pace, and just keep interacting normally with the environment while you slip into something else. Unfortunately, I was wearing a starched shirt that crinkled like wrapping paper when it moved, which ruined the process. Kay was understanding.
I asked her if she ever felt trapped by her own style, if she ever got tired of writing “Kay Ryan poems.” She didn’t seem to have a problem with that. I woke up with this poem:
How is it that
with our sense
and with our eyes
that tall dogs,
fat and thin,
are all one species
Seeing as I had gone to bed with the intention (stated to myself) of dreaming about my mother, with the promise to myself that I’d get up and write the dream down if I had it, I got up and wrote this down. Perhaps this dream was sent by my mother in some way; she was a subtle woman. Then I went back to sleep and returned to the same dream party where I tried to recite “Borzoi” to the assembled group and couldn’t remember it. I sang something instead. I love the sound of that word, “Borzoi.”
My favorite dream poem is the one that came to me from Dean Young:
Last night Dean Young came to me in a dream.
He was depressed about his work.
I kept pointing to poems he had written–
“What about this?” I asked, “And this? This one is amazing.”
“It doesn’t matter what you have written,” he said.
“It only matters what you are going to write.”
And that is good advice for any writer.