Poetry exercise: dream as narrative

Wednesday, May 18th, 2005

We know that dreams often act as a spike for writing and reflection. But we also know that dreams change over time. What changes about them is translatable into image. How does this work:

1. Given: change
2. Significance

As a person grows, the texture and subjects of dreams change. My own significant dreams are those that come in a series and that have that texture of realism. You (second person as a point of view; no, third in my case would work best–but the poem should tell) wake up and are pestered throughout the day by the experience. In this case, motif is critical, it would seem to me. Here’s an example, regardless of interpretation: I used to dream a lot about a space filled with black widow spider webs. The space first had the dimensions of my high school band room’s storage room, where we’d put our instruments and books and things. Later, the dimensions changed to reflect multiple rooms: the band room, a particular friends’ basement, a barn. There were two constants: the spiders and the webs. These dreams would surface then go away after a few days leaving me wondering why? Why, of course, is a part of the fabric of the dream. Anxiety, decisions, whatever. Anyway, the dream would unfold with my entering the space and realizing that I had to make my way through or out; the webs were everywhere: above, in corners, under shelves, laced across the floor like stretched nets. The spiders as a given were shrowded like black points within the webs, terrific potentials, hovering pebbles.

I know the source: black widow spiders love El Paso, Texas. We’d find them all around the house, out back, in manholes. They hunt at night. We’d hunt and find them with flashlights. It was always electric. When you found one in the small, confining basement, hung cupped in its silver universe, you had to stop and and wonder. In addition, at work one time, I entered a dark pumproom at night and nearly tripped. I scrabbled for the light, and sure enough I’d stepped through a web laced across the threshold, like a tripwire. The spiders, after all, have an aura of creepy intension, as if they’re after “us.” To us, they live alien lives in alien worlds, thinking up sinister plots; their revelations, like their webs, are as hard as iron and they see thousands of us simultaneously. Of course, all of this is reflected in film, and, of course, dreams, where the world can become “weblike.”

That’s just one example. But I haven’t had such dreams for many years. Others have taken over. That’s the exercise: to poeticize the calculas of change: one example, two examples. How do these dreams form a parallel experience of existence? What is the story or image that the dreams provide via the memory space of the poem?


3 responses to “Poetry exercise: dream as narrative”

  1. susan says:

    Good topic. Done.

  2. susan says:

    Okay, maybe by example others will follow. Not a good poem, but I think it follows your meaning of showing the change in dreams as we get older:

    “Age of Dreams”

  3. susan says:

    Sorry–forgot Talespinning was password protected. Try:

    “Age of Dreams”