I dream awake.


The first dream is a descent into the heavy darkness of a cavern.


The second descent is a slower drift into terror. Restraints follow the wallop, and wrists swell into a bloody mass. The mouth is taped to a bar. I think this must be me in the dream. Shadows shift. A compressive containment bursts open and air sucks away into a cavernous emptiness. I am freed and collapse. My body cools into arousal, foggy and uncertain.


The third dream is a slow-motion coast into the mouth of a grand cavern. The distinct red clay opening seems a coiled mass of confusion. Mists float and intermingle. Gradually balconies appear within the darkened shadows. Each holds a single female in a familiar stance, her champagne glass raised to sip, like an act intended to obscure the anxiety of the wait. The setting must be an opera hall. Sound ripples a felt sensation unheard. The body wakes, dumfounded.


The fourth dream repeats the void where patrons sip. Now I am clearly the curiosity. The onlookers have noticed me, a new patron on escort. I don’t know where I’m being taken, or why. Few new details emerge within a sorrow that suffocates. The passage seems endless.


The fifth vision is delayed by long travel through a coiled vault newly open to view. It rises level upon level upon level above view. What must be Ancestors cluster together to whisper and ascertain. I fear I am not destined for their company.


I have no words for what follows. Dreaming is only my second language. Silence is first.


  1. sara lippmann

    Hi John, I love the quiet power and clarity of the first line — (the simple declarative) and how the dreams accrue and echo one another, how the patterns repeat, the language and imagery resurfaces throughout the dream sequences. (descent, mouth, cavern — how they all lead us to vault.) I love the logic of dreams, because they hew to their own logic, and yet there is a logic, and so I would encourage moments of clarity to land the reader on for footing. {One note: I don’t know we need the self-conscious interjection, for example: The mouth is taped to a bar. (CUT I think this must be me in the dream.) Shadows shift.}

    I like how the dream pov shifts halfway through (dream 4) — from being the voyeur to becoming one watched. That feels like a necessary fulcrum point I would encourage you to push at that, there’s some stickiness there, and it’s yours if you want to unpack it a bit more, while still adhering to the surreality and abstraction of this dream world.


  2. Al Kratz

    I like the images in here and the flow, the descent and progression. it does lend the effect of getting deeper. i wonder if there are opportunities to increase the escalation or possibly begin to break the pattern too?

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