The Dreamer Interrupts The Dream


 Dressed For A Distant Shore

I feel fortunate to live here now, inside this place and time that I call home. A gabled house, costumed in a Cape Cod shade of blue. A sheer disguise to match the sky. A clever reminder of a long-ago honeymoon evening spent inside a New England restaurant; wind pelting rain against a picture window; fire burning in the hearth; lobster lying on the plate before me; unhappy wife sitting at my side, picking at her food. Doom’s shadow crawling through the chambers of my undeveloped heart, nowadays replaced by the wisdom of an old man’s smile as he contemplates the past.

More than thirty years ago I left that restaurant, as she left me, and I arrived on this newer coast just west of a young lover’s dream. Within the first few days of rediscovering myself here, I found romance and sex enough to leave me sated as I lay under fresh-starched hotel sheets, my arms wrapped around the supple flesh of a warm girl’s back, my hands cupped soft to hold her breasts, sunshine illuminating the morning sails of boats slapping water inside slips of the marina just beyond the balcony.

Drunk on possibilities. Rid of blizzard winters. Sharp tap of midnight footsteps on cobblestone streets now no more than subject for poems yet to be written.

And yet, and still, I sometimes miss the salty breeze that I remember as clean breath tickling through my boy’s dark hair, as I marched miles, back and forth and back again along the boardwalk of my youth.

Somewhere In The Crowd A Young Man Paces

The dreamer interrupts the dream.

He imagines the scars he’s only heard about by way of telephone conversations. Up and down his brother’s sternum, raw-red reminders of the places where surgeons of the second rank first wielded a buzz saw to open his inert body, then later shot a staple gun to close him up again.

And next, somewhere inside a separate nightmare, younger versions of the same two brothers are sitting side-by-side inside a beach-town tavern. The dreamer with a dozen wet excuses for another double-shot of scotch and rocks in front of him on the mahogany bar: slippery oysters, lemon wedges, cocktail sauce, a tiny silver fork he leaves unused in favor of the sucking sound his mouth makes as he slurps the slimy animals onto his tongue.

The dreamer’s brother, eyelids winking in a nervous way, pretends not to watch or hear the hungry gurgle going down his sibling’s throat.

“Don’t you want another glass of wine?” the dreamer asks.

“I’ll pass. It’s kind of early in the day, and I have to drive us across the bridge soon if we’re going to visit our parents’ grave and wash the headstone before the tourists jam the highway and stop us from getting back to my house before it gets dark. Not hurrying you, but will you be finished soon?”

The dreamer sucks the last hot, golden dose of medicine as it trickles its way through the ice cubes he tries to avoid. He sighs away his frustration, tosses dollar bills onto the table and slides his body off the vinyl-covered stool.

Why Stay Here When Home Awaits?

The dreamer’s dream interrupts itself.

Do you realize that for all the photographs you snap each day, most shots contain no human beings, no faces, no company, no friends or fools to comfort you? Return your self to that long-ago coastline, that walk atop two-by-fours nailed to creosote-painted pilings, themselves buried deep in muddy floors beneath the ocean waves. But look straight on as you travel; resist denial of the fact that back then you touched people with your camera’s lens and even sometimes with your hands.

Yes, go back at will, but by all means whenever you return to that place we measure as the past, go equipped with an honest glance as you recall the midnight cobblestone tap that until now you’ve used as reason for self-pity. Fairness to the truth insists that you welcome entrance of the dreamer’s brother’s vision. He knew you for the man you were, and not for the wet excuses you begged him to entertain. You slid off the stool. You watched him wash the headstone. And next you fell asleep, exhausted by the meal you drank.

While he arose still steady, and held the girl you failed to touch, the family you abandoned.

The Dreamer’s Brother Holds His Brother’s Dream

I feel fortunate to live here now, inside this place and time that I call home.

And yet, and still, I sometimes miss the salty breeze that I remember as clean breath tickling through my boy’s dark hair, as I marched miles, back and forth and back again along the boardwalk of my youth.

There are kites and cotton candy. Pot-bellied tourists unworried by the weight they pull. One giant slice of pizza in exchange for a sweaty quarter, melted cheese sliding off the crust, hot enough to burn a hungry boy’s tongue. A bright-green snow cone costs a dime. A hot dog smeared with tart, yellow mustard; sweet relish juice dripping between sensitive fingers.

Ride a roller coaster above roiling grey water and obstinate black jetties. Absorb the seaside view from the back seat of an electric car as it rolls its quiet way between the lanes of slow-sauntering tourists who escape the big city for a day or two. Brave the images of foreshortened bodies reflected by the glass of cheap trick mirrors.

Hold your father’s hand.

Listen to the sound of children giggling. Waves pounding and exploding on the shore, then rushing back to shape a semblance of their former selves. The squawking song of seagulls. The honky-tonk ping of player pianos. The flap of flags that fly overhead. The snap of bathing trunks’ elastic band against sunburned skin.

The tinny tone of love gone wrong squeaking through the tiny speaker of a transistor radio.

A Sweet Taste She’ll Remember

The dreamer’s brother interrupts the dreamer.

I see you now, through the fog of distance that forever will remain between the two of us. In spite of that cloud that interrupts the air we breathe together, finally I realize that you’re walking steady and approaching a peaceful accord with the people you once considered strangers. Yes, you owned fair reasons for feeling the sharpened edges of loneliness. But yes again, back then you employed those reasons in a way that encouraged friends and family members to shy away from you. What person, after all, wants to call himself companion to a man who fails to study the faces that surround him, who refuses to allow his camera’s lens the pleasure of looking back upon himself?

No honest man, surely. No loving brother. No honest dreamer.

 Colors Fly Above The Present Moment

Today I’ll choose to chase away all interrupted dreams, in favor of the life I’ll miss if thinking of another.

I’ll search above this temporary slip of time for the colors of a kite. I’ll look beyond the pelting rain, leave unhappy wives behind, and aim my camera’s lens back upon myself.

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