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I could start by writing about the Kentucky hotel maids as they wait for me to emerge from my room. We do this every day. There he goes, they say. No, look, he is back again. They will give up and come make up the room while I am still here. Negotiating at the door, we agree that they can do their work while I write behind the dump of sheets, the spill of the coffee pot in the bathroom, and the spatters of Spanish, while I continue to type, and while we pretend to be unaware of each another.
I was thinking I had to wait until the beginning of next month to start here. I've been away awhile. Some things happened. But it is the 24th of the month, leaving me six days to catch up and actually get started this month. This shouldn't be a problem. I'm a freaking Trollope. I can churn out two thousand words a day when I'm going. I've even got an idea for a theme. How about a hundred dreams? I always liked to do runs on themes when I was here before. The one hundred suicide notes disturbed my friends though.
The first dream: I am floating hot sky above a pyramid in sand country. The world is sand brown. The pyramid is black, a single one, lonely on a sandscape, living like a volcanic mountain. It is a half-mile long at the base, and it floats six inches above the land. I can see beneath it even as I watch from above. Dark sand is spinning at the top, rapidly wearing it away, like a dense grinder, and as it does so a hole opens. Swirling abrasives grinding the opening, cutting it larger and making something nothing. Uncreating.
The second dream: Lean dogs are racing around the track, biting one another. Trotters are running a graceful ice ballet in the snow while I drink a vodka gimlet. A man with short silver hair sits across a table from me in a wheel chair. Leaning over he is slurping beef tips and noodles. On the bleachers above us a greyhound is stretched out panting. She wears Number 09. The sulkies in the snow outside have become chariots, warriors circling the track warily. Number 09 watches them. The man across from me stabs a sliver of rare beef.
The third dream: I am in the woods with my father, but he has gone somewhere, maybe disappearing to take a piss. Old timber, I can barely make out patches of sky through the canopy. I'm ankle deep in maple leaves. Standing at a stream, I'm watching the water as it runs over a flat stone covered with waving algae and into a shallow depression lined with green leaves, water swirling, sparkling. Upstream a buck is drinking. Farther upstream a dead and bloated hound lies in the water. The wind picks up batting sharp leaves against my face.
The fourth dream: Laying back now, resting, I am looking through thick Venetian blinds. Between the blinds I can see only red. The red turns dark and I can see headlights moving toward me. As they approach they move apart and I realize they are motorcycles. I can hear the gearbox clunk and the engine rattle as they pass the building&the building has no sides. There is only a wall. The riders glow against the night. It is snowing in this dark red dream. I can see mountains on the horizon&red-tinted white mountains against the dark red night.
The fifth dream: A boy is lying on a hill, on his side. His shirt has thin horizontal red, blue, and green stripes some of which are saw-toothed. The bottom of his shirt has been trimmed off by a pair of pinking shears. The grass is wet, slowly seeping through his clothes, cold against his skin. He is looking up the hill, his nose level with the top of the grass. He is smiling at what he sees. He reaches for it, body turning, thin arm stretching. What is it? A purple clover blossom leans away from him.
The sixth dream: I am caught, my legs and hands tangled in something. The more I move, the more tightly I am bound. I feel a seizure coming on, and my brain is a pound of live grasshoppers on a hot iron skillet with no oil. Wagner Ware, hard black iron. Someone is going to have to scrape this thing clean. Some of the hoppers are jumping, landing against the wall next to the stovetop, some falling back into the pan. Others with their feet and bodies already welded to the skillet move slowly. Few are dead yet.
The seventh dream: It's the hole in the car seat. It is Orson driving his mother's car with the bullet hole in the seat. This is the car she was in when she shot herself. He is stopped by a Georgia state trooper who asks about the bullet hole. I don't know, sir. I've never seen it. His finger snakes into the hole, down into the dark-stained padding. He's curious about it now. The troopers argue about what they should do with him. The pavement is starting to boil, black bubbles rising and popping, spitting into the air.
The eighth dream: I am inside a large dark place. A pinhole of light is growing far above me. The sound of tornadoes shakes the sky. Louder, a locomotive is pounding toward me, but I can't tell where it is, which way to duck. I can feel the horn bellow. I'm covering my ears against the pain. Grit is raining down on me, into my hair, spitting through my teeth. My head is cracking and I am splitting open like a ripe oak log, cleanly, end-to-end. I can feel the rip of the nine-pound maul moving through me.
I've been making candles. This one has gone wrong. Glowing wax is flowing over the top of the mold where it sits on the burner. The candle rises out of its bed, lifting the lid, hissing, and sparking. Wax flows down the front of the stove and across the floor, hardening, covered with more wax moving like a lava flow into the living room. Outside I am in shorts in the evening with the neighbors, dancing in pain as the fireworks shower sparks all over us. Skyrockets have gone lateral, shooting between us, smashing into the garage door.
The tenth dream: The railroad tracks. Tiny toy tracks blend into an old rusty switchyard with tracks going in every direction. Frozen boxcars try to fall over in sleep as their wheels are welded to the rails with crumbling rust. The tiny toy tracks pass through tunnels cut in the rails of the real trains. One toy engine, a steamer, is stuck with its stack jammed into a steel tunnel while the wheels turn over and over. A toy train has fallen on its side, spilling open a red stock car. Toy cattle are strewn over the yard.
The eleventh dream: In the barn. In the hayloft. It's Gearhart's barn. I've been in here a hundred times. But the hayloft is turned around, running north and south instead of east and west. I can feel the stiff stubble from the hay, smell the dust off it. It is daylight, then dark, then daylight as if someone were flashing the lights on and off. The switching moves so quickly that stars are caught in the daylight. A gorilla is stuffing me into a drainpipe with a long pole. He works methodically, and I am a tight fit.
The twelfth dream: At the lectern, on a small stage draped in heavy wine-colored curtains. The seats are old laminated wood, and they squeak. Three people are in the audience. One moment they sit together. The next moment the three are sitting in entirely different sections. Then they are together again forming a V. I can feel my notes bulging in my pocket. My mouth opens and bugs fly out. One sticks to my lower lip, biting and kicking. Gripping the lectern, I am rocking it side to side. I am amazed at something that hasn't yet happened.
The thirteenth dream: The house on Ashley, old, aching, dry-rotted house. I've found my way into the basement, a different one, not the dirt cellar. This one is newly poured concrete, extending for miles beyond the house, a labyrinth of tunnels and pipes, but I know my way. One section is very tight. I have to squeeze around a v-shaped corner and under a large green pipe. When I pop out, I angle up a darker tunnel. As I get older and larger, this becomes harder. I know that some day I won't be able to make it.
The fourteenth dream: Singers on risers. It's a small stage with heavy purple curtains. Three risers are placed in a semi-circle on the orange hardwood floor. The singers are young women in yellow summer dresses, their faces raised into the stage lights, and their identical mouths forming the notes, one row after another like hammers in a piano, chord rising from chord, passing waves into the space over the auditorium. They are holding hymnals with comic books stuck inside. They are singing from the comic books, Bat Man, Tom and Jerry, and Modern Romance. The music is beautiful.
100 Dreams The fifteenth dream: The chicken coop. It's really a chicken shed. The floor is wood. You can smell old chicken shit in the dust. The floor is bare earth. Cloudy water bottles line the floor. The window is covered with chicken wire, the plastic torn loose and flailing in the wind. I'm outside again, the paint peeling from the shed. White, heavy paint. I hear tanks coming and run into the shed, locking the door. The tanks stop for a moment, engines idling. I hear voices. Then an engine revs, and side of the shed begins to collapse.
The sixteenth dream: I am in my bed under the covers, but I am walking. I am walking, fully clothed, but naked in a dream. In the dark, I am stepping over shoes and books on the floor. I know where they are. I have walked across the bedroom passing through my birch chest of drawers, pausing to wonder at the feel of the old wood inside my thighs. I seem to feel it in my thighs and hips more than elsewhere. I can see through the drawers, the socks, underwear, shirts, and the joinery in the cabinet.
The Seventeenth Dream: The house covers an entire city block like a flower. I am trying to explain to my second wife, Terry, why we cannot buy it. True, it is gorgeous, a generous ruin. Her eyes are glazed with an holy emotion that I can almost understand. We are in the rotunda. Fantastic gilt frescos cover the walls. Most of the roof is missing. I can see treetops leaning over the space where the roof used to be. I'm sitting in the floor, leaning against a moldy wall, wondering how much longer this floor will hold me.
The Eighteenth Dream: I am going somewhere, and I have a sense of impending amazement. My daughter Amanda comes to say the soup is ready. Her hair is wet, piled high on her head in a towel. She is on the phone with a friend, who is downstairs on the extension. Already, I am amazed. I am amazed by the worship and the breath moving in and out. By the movement as the bowl overturns across the table, By the sudden pain from nowhere causing me to close my eyes, to pause, to breathe deliberately. In and out.
The Nineteenth Dream: Trotters are running a graceful ballet in the snow while I drink a vodka gimlet in the grandstand. A man with short silver hair and blue eyes sits across a table from me. He's in a wheel chair. Both hands are on the arms of the chair, and he is leaning forward, excited about something, but I can't make out what he is saying. In a weeded lot behind a small barn is a green car with white homemade headers stabbing out the sides. On the side is painted The Grasshopper. Its number is 09.
The Twentieth dream: Men with hats. Men with Fedoras and long coats are walking on the fog. Pale faces with set yellow eyes walking on patches of fog, up to their knees in patches of fog. Coat tails scraping billows of fog in the sky, walking over my mother's clothes' line. She is pinning up skeletons of men as fast as she can, dragging them out of the laundry basket in a fit of anger. She pins one up, slides down the line, and grabs another shoulder bone. The ground is littered with wet bones in the fog.
The twenty-first dream: I am on the shore of a muddy lake. The bank is made of rocks and mud the same color as the water. Where have I gone now? A road circles the lake and goes up a hill. Cottonwoods, locusts, and dusty maples flank the lake and follow the road up the hill. I am watching the road go over the hill, moving itself like a muscle when a heavy bug hits the water and I am infused with a sudden sense of loss. The shutter comes down, and I am in gritty dark water.
The twenty-second dream: I am in the woods with my father, old heavy growth across the cornfield. Flocks of rows are coming and a man is running away, dropping his shotgun in the leaves. He's wearing my father's hunting coat, but instead of a hunting license, he has an old orange automobile license plate pinned to his coat. He is going over a hill toward smoke, and I can see flames teasing their way across the leaves. The crows are watching, all wearing little brown Fedoras. Standing at the stream again, I can see it is on fire.
The twenty-third dream: I have found my old cars. They have been stashed behind the chicken shed as I discarded them. I have a half dozen automobiles that I can drive anytime I want. I climb into my old '57 Ford, and turn the key. It starts up with the familiar rumble of the 292 V-8, and I wheel it across the lawn to the road. Fifty-eight thousand miles, and the tires are still good. By the time I reach the top of the hill, I am wondering about an old Mercury. What have they done with it?
The twenty-fourth dream: The bone box is a black polished hardwood suitcase partitioned to keep the bones from co-mingling. It is three feet long with metal-reinforced corners.
Each bone is labeled with a tiny black number so you can check it against the label on the inside of the lid to be sure you are holding what part you are knowing.
The bone box becomes longer, heavy handled, padded and silenced, sleeping beneath the weight of earth, trees, and centuries, holding the cemetery down.
No longer red, juicy and vibrant. Not soft, flowing or dreaming. The bone box.
The twenty-fifth dream: I'm in the old skillet foundry. The windows are all broken out. It's night, but the men are at their machines, shirtless, shining with sweat, and shoveling sand into their molds. I can feel my legs lifting my shovel. There are bugs in the sand, and I can feel the heat as they pour the molten iron into my molds. I feel a seizure coming. I'm at the blast furnace, watching the scrap iron melting in with the new, the slag floating on top, dripping over the sides. Grasshoppers are crawling out of the furnace.
The twenty-sixth dream: I'm sleeping, or not. It's not like I'm trying to sleep, but I am in that between state. I hear hammers, or knocking outside the building and my mind is stirring, getting up, leaving my body to sit on the bed and listen. Walking to the window, I slide the curtain open. There's nothing there but the pine waving stiffly like a man in a bandage. I still hear the knocking, or tapping, and I'm turning, seeing myself lying in bed, restless, with the radio on. The tapping, I think, is coming from the radio.
The twenty-seventh dream: Grade school. I'm coming in off the playground, and instead of going up the stairs; I turn right through the old boiler room. Passing down a corridor, I walk into a locker room full of naked girls, combing out wet hair, talking, and dressing. They don't seem to notice me. I change into a wet swimsuit and climb another set of stairs onto the deck over a pool. The pool is empty, brightly lit under a wondrous stained-glass dome. There is such a sense of space here. Spreading my arms, I dive into the water.
The twenty-eighth dream: Waking up in the night, I am in my bedroom as a boy. Fingers scissoring the blinds apart I see a large volcano has erupted in the field behind the house, in the field between the house and the woods where my father and I hunt. It is in the same place where the round brick barn was, but the volcano, rising out of the ground has erased the barn. Glowing wax is flowing over the top hissing and spitting rocks that are landing nearby. I know I have to run. The house is burning.
The twenty-ninth dream: I dream deep into the night, and the dreams are happy dreams were I am close to someone and Psyche holds my hand. They are terrifying dreams of shipwrecks at sea followed by swallows diving over serenity and I am sailing in my Scott again, slitting the lake, the sails filled out like wings lifting me to joy. I miss the swallows&I miss the lake&I miss the snap and billow of the sail and the soft flying. I miss my Psyche and the someone to be close to. I wonder if she will come home.
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