La Ville Rose

Switching from black next
Into pink-red ink,
I wrote to you
On a postcard
From a cruise ship
In Tolosa, a city you know
As Tolouse.
Strange how dreams
Shift and slip
And casually blend,
For you and I know well
It’s a few hours drive,
Through foothill climbs
And Alpine screes
With views, O such scenery!
Bridging rivers in spate
And by old Limoux,
To reach the sea
Though give if fifty years
Or perhaps fifty two,
And Toulouse could be
A Venice anew.

Forgetting to keep
My writing hand removed
From a postcard’s edge,
I smudged the ink
And forgot what to do.
Though I had not seen my
Friends for half that time,
There they were travelling too
On our erstwhile cruise.
I could not find my shoes,
And so they disembarked
With cheery ‘see you soons’,
À bientôt!
With dreaming ways
Approximating every day
You moved away from the group,
Grabbed my hand, urgently said:
Retrouvez-nous au bureau de poste
Sur la place de la ville
And though the memory
Is firmly impressed,
You did not speak French
And our meeting proposed
Did not take place,
But blew away
Like seeds escaped
From a dandelion’s tooth.

On the postcard
I wrote about
A dream preceding that very
Same night; I felt this need
To communicate its birth,
Its bald and blind occurrence.
We were back at that bungalow
Our grandmother built
And owned; after death,
The parcel of land
Divided up, small acre
Made unhindered by
Childhood imagination,
Where once we played
But do not any more,
We drank lemonade and
A home-made sponge,
Harvested peas and
Mowed the lawn,
Buried now beside
All future capability
To cope.
Well, a revolting mogul
Bought that land and soon
Demolished our home of hope,
With apartments compressed
Where once we roamed,
I entered his bleak building site
As if the shift in ownership
Remained unknown, observing
With deeply absymal passivity
His carpentry, in the hall
Where we shared a meal
At Adventide and Easter,
He crafted four ingenious stairs
Around a trunk revolving,
Other rooms – tarpaulins smothered,
And I realised an awful truth,
And ran as fast as I could
To the family car,
Outside that place
Upon an unadopted road.

And so I relayed this dream,
This apparition, on a card
In a dream that followed;
A card I did not
Otherwise post,
I woke in sweat,
Somewhat soaked,
Desperately attempting to
Achieve a meaning in
Those hollows, and finding
Nothing instead but sadness
For those unborn forms
A waking morning swallowed.

Driving On The Wrong Side Of The Road And Driving On The Right

In this recent dream, a series
Of reversions  and events
Only I could revisit in
Their random happenings,
Driving through this city
At night, accompanied by
Two people to the limits,
I have not seen them now
For twenty years
(We were friends back then,
It’s always an implied criticism
When long lost acquaintances
Tell me Nick, you haven’t changed a bit,
And I roll the eyes of my soul,
Disguised by this enterprise
Of living incidentally);
Into a one-way tunnel we drove
With two or three cars speeding
Towards me following a wrong
Direction, I see headlamps
Before their steel appears
And flashes away in to the night;
I brake, and a voice reaches me,
A girl who lives in a house
Above the tunnel, she transmits
Advice on how to navigate
This underground straight
And narrow. I send her a
Message of thanks, haunted,
Sweating in my sleep, before
Arriving at a dark parking lot
And I have all this stuff,
So much stuff I cannot carry:
Boxes with old work documents,
Condiments, sixteen years of
Abuse, a basketball, footballs,
A laundry basket and books,
A brisket and a wok, so we took
The unusual decision of opening
Another car’s trunk and filling it
With all my dreaming flotsam.
It seemed to me like baggage.

We are permanently eighteen here,
And in the next scene I cannot
Explain how we arrived at your bedroom;
Anaglypta wallpaper, a plastic bin,
An absence of parents.
I rolled up the skin of my memories
And threw those flaky balls
Into the waste. I expect you’ll return
Again tonight, you seem to want to,
Even though one is an architect
Who is hardly in need of contacting
A dead-end poet, and the other
I don’t know anything about any longer.
I don’t begrudge it, I cannot fight,
In the next dream, I waved goodbye
To my grandmother one last time.

So my unseen mind got stuck
In an eighteen year old’s plight;
Big deal in the schemes above!
Yet how foolish I feel now, to
Have lived for decades with a
Harrowing belief that I
Was driving against the flow,
These dreams have teeth to bite,
When all the time they were
On the side of my wrongs,
And I was on the right.

Aftermath

You’ve been shopping again,
Cruising aisles and clothing
Racks left in a season-ending’s
Messiness; sales are on four
Polished parquet floors
Inside my night-time mind
Where these more
Pleasant dreams
Sometimes reside,
And also you in spirit-form,
Sometimes hiding
Within me yet without me.
A paradox with summer storms,
We slipped into my department
Store with expectations to avoid
The rains and post-pandemic
Hordes, oceans of traffic lights
And umbrellas, holding hands
As we gladly made our way
Through this homage to
Commerce, this palace’s
Obscenely gigantic doors,
Deep green frames, lintels
Propped by angular art deco
Demigods with impossibly
Muscular jaws. I won’t be
Jealous of a statue in obsidian,
I sought myself, to reassure.
I’d visited here in different
Dreams several years before,
Alone and feeling lost,
Uncomfortable
In my only thoughts,
Though I have atoned
For those stones
As you know,
And now like everyone else
I can buy coffee, and tour
Menswear and menageries,
Counters and clocks.
All the fish have been caught.

Not knowing what you bought,
Jewellery perhaps, a camisole,
I could see beside your green
Heels three or four bags,
In purple and pink fabrics,
Even the inexplicable methods
For carrying purchases about
This city where you reach
So deeply in to me reflects
Your personality as perfectly
As the death of inadequacy
In Elysian markets.
Your ways delight and inspire
A primal circuitry, native,
As old as the hills of men,
Indigenous, sacred.
I just have bags under my eyes
From the tiredness, trenches
In my dreams are drenched
By July’s torrents. I longed
For the fresh air pursuing
A storm’s routes, its brute
Force, the airborne cousin
To the scent of grass after
Its mowing, from where we
Gave birth to a word: Aftermath.

I remembered in that dream
The store bags had lines from my
Haiku printed in white fonts
And I looked to you, as beautiful
As the day our friendship and
These sentiments too were born,
And I knew then the meaning
Of dreams where we met
On a simple bench in a store,
Avoiding the crowds, sharing
Moments of quiet reflection
And your laughter like lucid
Streams over those stones
I threw back in to the water,
A pure invigorating air
Only found in the Highlands;
Hands held, biding our time
Until the end of the storm,
For its end is on the horizon,
Then we may leave this building
And travel home once more.