Dreams of Kay Ryan

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
we recognize
with our sense
and with our eyes
that tall dogs,
short dogs,
fat and thin,
are all one species
from within?

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.

6 thoughts on “Dreams of Kay Ryan

  1. I really enjoyed your dream of poetry, your instruction on magical dressing and when that went awry, how you didn’t miss a beat and sang a song instead.
    I dream alot, when I dream, it seems to come and go though- for long durations I am dreamless -a clean slate upon waking and then without warning: Technicolor triple features.
    a while ago I dreamt in riddles, actual puzzle like story problems that I would solve handily and of course in the morning came up empty handed.
    Do you dream often of your mother? I used to dream, of course, at first, only of my mother usually the subject being: the many ways I might have saved her life, had I been a skillful person. Now I look forward to any glimpse of her.

  2. I almost never dream of my mother, who was expert at interpreting dreams. So it seems odd to me that she rarely appears. It’s very hard to save anyone’s life, Simone, in dreams or more especially in reality.

  3. I loved your Kay Ryan dream. It seems to me that this is what good poets do–undressing without causing social outrage, being subversive while chitchatting, getting away with murder while singing a song. Hard to do with noisy shirts or squeaky shoes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *