Dreaming We’re Awake When Deep Asleep
Happily we will go, and happy be,
to live in newer worlds, and find that we
are skirmishing with fae, or flakes in flood
within the ever-hallowed Hall of Winter.
White or grey as ice are all the walls,
and every sunset touches every pane
to brimming full, with thoughts as red as blood;
the ever-open doors bid you to enter.
Happily go, and when your heart flies free,
a salamander lights eternity
and rakes your earth with burning teeth, and feeds
on your intention, and your sense of wonder.
Daytime glosses (on the truth that falls
into our dreams as tears; as gentle rain)
are, to a salamander, purest food,
and well it feeds on all our dying splendor.
Awake Within A Dream Within A Dream
If all the humorous wrecks of goodly thrones
were not abandoned, wretched, empty, hulks,
or weren’t filled with gangs – of squatters, rogues
who barter tracts, and thieves engorged with lies…
if nihilist nights were not so howling blank,
what would you beg? If asked of your desire?
You stand before the light of the Divine,
which living flame bids: say what you most wish.
What dream are you most willing to relay?
What lust? What selfless gift of life? What fear?
Fulfill your hopes to love, and be beloved?
To feel alive and winning every day?
To live until you wish that you may die?
Or just perhaps… to mount beyond such dreams:
To own the soul of magic, and defeat
the deep desire to use it as you will.
Reverie While Waking In A Dream
And meanwhile, we are dogged by restless dreams:
of regal Princesses, demanding more
than flames take, from their willing bits of green;
of queens of humble royalty, as fair
as velvet nights adrift in tropic climes;
of frozen arctic empresses, a-wing
within the glowing mountains of the clouds,
as hard to grasp as dawning Winter fog;
but best? Our dreams of utmost majesty,
in which a living, breathing, august light
gives suckle to the cascade of our cries,
and loves us all, with heartfelt, milky sighs.
To dream within our dreams within our dreams
is barely more than living half-alive;
achieve the blistering sight-in-sight: let eyes
in eyes in eyes illuminate all ghosts.
A total of 48 lines in three titled sections, each section consisting of four four-line stanzas. Most lines (and the section titles) are in iambic pentameter (although there are a few other feet thrown in here and there, mostly in the first section).
Rhyme scheme for the first section:
LINE: 12 34 12 34 12 34 12 34
RHYME: AA BC DE BC AA BC DE BC
In this section, the first and second line rhymes bounce between heroic couplets and a cross-stanza rhyme with less immediate consequences; the third and fourth lines of each stanza keep a steady beat.
Metrically in this first section, the opening lines of the first and third stanzas begin with a dactyl followed by four iambs ( ‘- -‘ -‘ -‘ -‘ ) . In the second and fourth stanzas, the first line consists of ( ‘- ‘- ‘- ‘-‘ ) trochee, trochee, trochee, amphimacer – still five stressed, but only four unstressed syllables.
The final line in each stanza is built ( -‘ -‘ -‘ -‘ – ‘-) iamb, iamb, iamb, iamb, amphibrach, which leaves an extra unstressed syllable at the end of the stanza, which wraps nicely around to the stressed beginning of the next stanza (for all stanzas after the first).
Combine the variant first and last line structures in each stanza and you find you still have (roughly) twenty unstressed and twenty stressed syllables in each stanza, but they come in somewhat odd locations.
Compared to the rhyming and metrical structure of the first section of the poem, the second and third sections are pretty pedestrian – more or less standard blank verse. There’s an occasional trisyllable, but not many.
This poem first appears in my 2010 pen journal. Here’s a transcription of the original:
Happily I will go and happy be
skirmishing with the flakes in the
Hall of Winter white or grey are the walls
and when sunset touches, the panes
fill with thoughts of blood and the tall doors close
Happily go and in the smooth touch of gone
the salamander starts a whickering flame
it paws the ground, feeding on intention
and daytime glosses of the truth we tell each
night; it feeds on fright, and very well.
What would you bargain for, if the nights
were not so howlingly humorously empty
and every throne abandoned, or home
to some wretched squatter full of lies:
to be loved? to feel alive? to eschew magic
Meanwhile I am dogged by dreams of regal
Princesses so much more than flame or
night or ice of the early morning fogs;
they are freezing but determined
and I was only ever half alive
As you can see, this has been extensively reworked.
This is a poem about illusion, and whether illusion is detectable: whether one can discern truth from falsity. Secondly, this is about what one does, if illusion is detectable: whether such discrimination is actionable.
The section subtitles reflect this concern: Dreaming We’re Awake When Deep Asleep, Awake Within A Dream Within A Dream, and Reverie While Waking In A Dream.
The first section is a tale of pure illusion – an actual dream, which perhaps accounts for its somewhat less regular and much more ornate structure and language.
The second section expresses a frustrated awareness of inescapable illusion, and examines the self-defeating, circular mazes of illusion that are sometimes offered as "solutions" to the problem of existence. The only workable solution suggests transcending existence.
The third section explores possible sensual modes of escape, and in the end, prefers the hope that the target of illusion might become a source of revealed truth.
There is also a sense that the second section occurs within the first, and the third section occurs within the second; that the poem as a whole is a dream within a dream within a dream.
The issue of what is and is not maya (and what kind of maya it may be) is fundamental to everything. Every action, every meaning we assign, exists within a context – a set of assumptions about what possesses value and what doesn’t. Which question reduces to what is most directly divinely inspired, and what is less so – really, that is all the questions in all the cosmos, in a nutshell.