In The Absence of Dreams: Early Morning Writing

sleepy writer

Here I am again. It’s 4:00 am here and I am wide awake. Just cannot sleep! I have no idea why this keeps going on. It’s not as though I awaken flush with inspiration. To be honest, I wake up with the strongest desire to go back to sleep, which never happens. Trust me, the dreams I leave behind are far more vivid and compelling than anything I am likely to write in my semi-somnambulant state. But by the time I make my coffee and fire up the computer, these dreams have evaporated like raindrops on a summer sun-baked highway. Instead, I sit there foggy-headed for an hour, awaiting my muse, who is, no doubt, sound asleep deep beneath a pile of 600-thread count comforters.

I’d like to believe I am caught up in a creative rebirth and nature simply compels me, each morning, to cut the umbilical cord between the bed and my laptop. But it feels more like something went horribly wrong in the third trimester and I am struggling just to come full term in my writing gestation. Continuing this hobbled metaphor, it seems to me as though getting up to write for writing’s sake bleeds my creative juices and more often than not I just end up with a chronic case of literary anemia.

I have to admit, however, that I’ve known worse. In the past, I’d stay up this long drinking with all the intention to write, but end up putting a heavy hurt on a box of cheap red wine and searching for friends I’d once had. In those dark, drunken hours I’d spend all my creative juice on Facebook status updates and bumbling my way through endless offerings of StumbleUpon. I didn’t sleep then, either.

Now, without substances, I find myself chewing on these early-morning words, not swallowing them, not digesting, but getting my mouth wet, feeling their texture, getting their flavor. I hope this new addiction will take me far. If it means losing a little sleep, I’ll just have to learn to catnap throughout the day. As I child I fell in love with words; not just the sound, or meaning, but their shape. It’s taken me years to realize I want to spend my time as I did when I was most happy, when I was 5, sketching letters and making words.

And if that time happens to be 4:00 a.m., so be it.

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My Pagoda

pagoda

In my next incarnation,
I will dwell in a house
with a roof that curls like a smile.
Nestled in a flush of empurpled trees
and luminous clouds –
paths winding up
the velvety-green mountains
and ninety-nine steps
upward to my teak-carved door.

Shivering, I will rise in the morning,
blow on my hands like coals,
and squat to make tea in the teapot.
Slowly, the aromatic leaves will fill my heart
like a cup, the tea swirling,
knowing more than I know.

In the room’s far corner,
an altar, a few flowers, incense.
Buddha smiling.

My visitors will carry bright offerings
But how little will be necessary!
Like a beggar’s bowl,
each day will be full and empty

Awakening Our Memories

SirMaxHotAirBalloon2

We shall sail through the air a thousand country miles –
watch the falcons pirouette in the summer sky;
lunch upon bitter green apples and fermented mangoes
and nap beneath the cool luminous clouds;
quench our thirst with melodious wine
and toss stones down upon frozen lakes.

We shall immortalize poets against the echoing granite walls of time.
In bare feet we will land and dance in verdant green meadows
that carpet a bottomless valley;
trace our fingertips along the gnarled grooves
of a dying oak and bid it farewell.

We will bathe in babbling brooks that giggle at
our nakedness and dry ourselves in the wispy autumn winds.
Upon mountaintops, we shall squeeze sunsets between
our forefinger and thumb and slowly open them again to
the shimmering glow of a new moon.

We shall sleep beneath a canopy of universes and compose
our dreams against shimmering stars;
build wet sandcastles fit for kings on foreign shores
and feed them to the ravenous surf.

Beneath cascading waterfalls we’ll write tumbling
verse, while angelfish nibble at our dropped metaphors.
In the Mascarene Islands, we will fly kites built from
forest reeds and raffia palms until they are swallowed
by drifting winter clouds.

The return to a new day awaits us, and a thousand more
miles beneath our balloon before this life is drawn complete.
Awakening a memory, we close our eyes
and the colors of life’s possibilities explode beneath our lids.