The Waking

The Waking:

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me, so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

– Theodore Roethke


Was hoping to wake up early and start writing up an entry about the trip so far, but I had a profoundly upsetting dream last night, and I’m still trying to get my head back on straight.

Later, maybe.

If I want to see you, all I have to do…

Last night, I dreamt that I was surrounded by old friends, close friends. We had pulled an art heist, a big one, and despite how perfectly orchestrated and executed it was, the police were closing in on us. They didn’t have proof, but they knew it was us, and they weren’t going to stop until we were caught. All I could see was everything I owned, everything I’d worked for, gone; replaced by a set of handcuffs.

I wonder what that means?

karabasan synaesthesia

Dreams colour everything. They stain the walls and the sky, they tint the skin, they coat your words in memory and dye your thoughts with fantasy.

I don’t know how to unlive them, how to make them ethereal, meaningless. I try. It feels like trying to banish death.

Growing up, I had books instead of friends. In class, they’d call me a murderer’s son, and on the playground they didn’t waste words.

That’s not an invitation for sympathy or pity; I long ago made peace with it. It’s what happened. It’s the past.

But through the years there were always dreams, and nothing anyone said or did could ever be as isolating. Nothing could ever come close. Nothing ever has.

I’m tired and I want to sleep, but I’m not ready to close my eyes again. Maybe when it’s morning.


When I dream, it’s conflict, always conflict.

Last night’s dream was a one-act play where a university student was arrested, detained, and then put through incredible psychological stress by the investigators (much like The Interview). They accused him of being connected to an incredibly violent Kaiser Soze-like crime lord, acting as the perfect no-one-will-suspect-the-honour-student gangster who imports contraband and distributes it to the regional bosses.

He seemed genuinely baffled by this, and wrote it off as a case of mistaken identity or a mixed-up file. He pointed out that he’d never been to the country that this kingpin was from, that he doesn’t travel, and that he spends so much present-and-accounted-for time with various school activities that it would be impossible for him to take up a new hobby, let alone mastermind a national distribution network.

The investigators were unconvinced.

Over the course of the day they used bribes, threats, and blackmail. They talked about the indiscriminate brutality of the crime boss, ordering the slaughter of gangsters and innocents alike, murdering his own men if they did not pass bizarre ‘loyalty tests’, and wiping out entire divisions of the organization if they were not meeting expectations. They refused to let him make a phone call. They refused to get him anything to eat. They promised a reduced sentence if he cooperated. They lowered the temperature for an hour, and left him shivering in his t-shirt; then they blasted the heat, sipping on ice-cold water while they interrogated.

The student continued to protest; first with indignation, then with anger, and finally with exhaustion. They had the wrong man, he said, and no amount of threats would change that.

Finally, they put all their cards on the table. They have been watching him for the greater part of a year, they said. They have recordings of calls he made on disposable cell phones. They have surveillance photos of him meeting with dealers and fences in a clubhouse, disguised as a dentist’s office.

They told him that he had a choice to make.

They could charge him with everything, and he would spend the rest of his life in prison — or he could roll over, and help them pin his boss, who they had been trying (and failing) to gain evidence on for years.

After a long silence, he looked up at one of the investigators, and asked “Can you offer me protection?”

The investigator said that he could.

The student said he wanted to be somewhere secure before he talked. The investigator assented, and opened the interrogation room door to lead him out.

He made it half-way across the room before the second investigator slipped the garrotte around his neck.

He had failed the test.

If I reveal myself to you, you will understand.

A dream:

I was on a bus, which is where the trip was going to end. I wasn’t sure how long we had been searching, but it had been the greater half of a year. In the end, we had uncovered an incredible number of religious and spiritual artifacts, both real and forged. Indeed, the Virgin Mary herself had whispered to us in the darkness, and helped lead us to light.

In the end, though, it was the big man himself who came out to play.

He revealed Himself to us on the bus, as we waited for the endgame to bring itself to a close. True to our expectations, he was an old white guy, but not quite what we thought he’d look like. He was shorter than any of us, and was only wearing a thin blue silk robe that was more ratty than it was majestic, and did little to cover his potbelly. In his knotted and thinning hair was a crown made of twigs, so small and thin that I thought it would break if he tried to remove it.

He looked at us all, and spoke: If I reveal myself to you, you will understand.

And with those words, Lord God Himself began to strip on a Greyhound, just outside the city limits.

Thre three of us watched intently, and indeed, once he was revealed, we did understand. Free from his crown and robes, he looked exactly as you would expect a God to look. Shimmering white aura, sounds of birds and laughter, a brilliance so bright you can hardly bear to look — but we looked anyway.

On his chest and stomach in a gothic script was tattooed the following, in french:

Our offices are closed for the next two weeks

All quests completed during this time must be started anew when we return

We apologize for the inconvenience.

the space between

The dreams have been coming back, recently, in a way I haven’t felt in many years.

Last night I watched a man die.

We were in a store, in the middle of a firefight between cops and robbers. I was crouched between two big freezers, well-covered and out of sight. He was standing in front of me, looking down, oblivious to the arms fire all around us.

We watched each other. We gave everything we were to each other in that moment, because we knew how precious it was.

We had lived this before, you see.

Three nights ago, I watched a man die.

We were in a store, in the middle of a firefight between cops and robbers. I was crouched down against a wall, exposed and in the line of fire. He was shooting at the robbers, along with the men from his station.

I watched him. I gave everything I had to him in that moment, because I knew how precious life was.

It didn’t make a difference, you see.

He survived the firefight, but slipped while attending to one of his men. He fell onto a pile of broken glass from an overhead display, and then the floor was the brightest crimson I had ever seen.

The paramedic did what he could, considering the circumstances. He couldn’t get a vein, he couldn’t open the bags, he couldn’t break the seals. Later, he remarked, “It was like God wanted this man to die, and wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

Last night, I went to the store. I brought my purchase to the counter, and saw the robbers walk in through the mirror in the corner. I knew where I was. I knew what was going to happen. The details might change, but the outcome would be the same.

I started walking towards the back, looking for somewhere to hide. Things were happening faster, this time. I heard a shot behind me, and I knew the shopkeeper was down. I managed to fit between the freezers, and kept my head down.

I heard the police come in. I heard them yell useless words of negotiation. I heard the firefight start.

When I looked up, I saw him standing over me, between the white men with guns and the black men with guns. He had been there with me. He knew what happened. He knew he was already dead.

We watched each other for a lifetime, and there was no space between us.

Dreams, always more dreams.

Lost in fields of opium and daggers, with red grass too tall to provide any real sense of safety. Above me, below me, around me. Red.

On my hands. Staining my clothes. Dried under my fingernails. Caked on the gun.

This was the fifth time they’d sent people, and I expected it’d be the last. These ones knew about us. They knew where we hid the money, where we hid the drugs, where we had come from, and most importantly, that we didn’t do it.

Our guilt was of no consequence to them, however, and it was kill or be killed.

We had spent over half a year building our life away from this. We had moved from the place we loved, we had given up our friends and family for the chance at a life together. Somehow we knew it’d end like this. We knew they wouldn’t forget us.

At least we were together. At least we could die holding hands.

If I could find her in the grass before they found us.

(The older I get, the less I understand how people cope with their dreams. How am I supposed to go out and interact with people tonight, when I just spent the last five months in a place of pain and loss? The fact that it didn’t happen in the way that ‘real things’ happen makes it no easier for me to deal with. I was there. I lived, I ate, I slept, I felt. It was as real and immersive to me as this waking world is now.)

another saturday evening

I spend my dreamtime delirious, lost.


She asked me to hold a knife to her throat as we continued; sharp and cold, it reminded me of her. Part of me recoiled at this perversity, but I had found them together, Leslie and her, and I would not back down now.

She laughed as the blood began to flow, impressing the spectators with her enthusiasm. This too, would pass.

Raven was here, and his skeleton took me aside – once more, we are bleached white and broken, we are bound.

I did not have time for him, today. His bones ground together with every movement, a fine chalk dust marking his steps. His irritation was only second to my own.

Together, we pretended that we could ignore each other, and looked for a way home.

I found her in the dig. She was thought to be dead, and not without cause. The oils and dirt covered her so completely that she had been passed over countless times, mistaken for landscape.

I took her in my arms and began to wash her, softly, with lukewarm water that felt like fire to her skin. She saw me, in that moment, and we knew that we belonged to each other.

For every story I keep, a thousand leave me forever.

More Dreams…

In my dreams, I know only grey skies and the taste of asphalt.

Through a maze of back alleys and scorched fields I try for freedom, the smell of burning cities drives me as much as what will happen when they find me.

Raven’s Skeleton, my totem, is here. We are bleached white and broken, we are bound.

A half-remembered dream I had, some nights ago…

So it had come down to this, for some reason.

The lines were drawn in the sand (chalk, actually, on pavement) and Crowd was there, ready to decide who would live or die.

The fight was just between him and I, of course, but Crowds always know before you do, they speak to each other with a wall of noise that shapes fate for everyone who can hear.

I was going to bloody up his pretty-boy face. I had him on size, skill, and hate.

I had my cane with me, and it was Excalibur.

Translating dreams into words, first in a series.

It was simple, really, what I had to do.

The only way to get out of the game was to bring others into it. I lied with a smile as I described what would be happening, and coaxed her into it with saccharine sweetness. I had no choice, I kept reminding myself. It was either this, or a lifetime of pain beyond anything I had ever known.

And when she realized what was happening, I did not flinch at her screams.


I looked upon my collapsed chest with something akin to sadness, although I cannot say exactly what it was. The rings of scars that circled my torso were made insignificant by the bloodless gouges under my nipples.

This was only the beginning, I reminded myself. I had my whole life ahead of me.