dream interpreter – Part 1 : 40-44

40.

A dream never starts – just clicks on – being
in medias res. Dream-eater first saw a wall,
a mouldy grey barrier which was below ground.
A sense came upon her that all would die out soon.

Great excitement, a feeling of fear and hope.
An awareness that the world was reaching
an end, and yet infused with a sense of camaraderie,
she was not alone in the underground maze.

41.

‘Twas a narrow maze, or a sewer, nay an aqueduct.
Not sure, but clearly under a great city. How would
she know, never having seen a city in her life!
It was very much real, with crystalline clarity.

The room she was in (or they were in: friends,
companions still unknown to her, except for
being some people she loved deeply) the room
was very small, and breathing was difficult.

42.

The narrow passages of this underground lair
were endlessly going on; then occasionally
a large room with a water tank would appear,
a passage would rise up from the ceiling

shooting up into the above ground space,
she guessed that only a very small person
would be able to climb up and down. Pain,
she felt, trapped in a deadly world below.

43.

And yet she was not alone, and as they wandered
through the underground city in the great blind
she felt more alive then than many a day on the
endless steppe, the horizon forever expanding

to the Altai mountains, forever moving further
apart, escaping her freedom. For an instant she
thought she saw her father; she noticed a mark
on the wall, a double-axe, and then the dark.

44.

A large breathing creature, an entirely oily
mass of grease was blocking the passage. She
panicked, her companions felt a needle touch,
and from the corner of her eye she could see

some ungodly liquid seeping from this large
blob of rot, a grim fat-berg growing below,
a menace to the city, some karmic remnant of
human hubris: a living thing, most horrible.

dream interpreter – Part 1 : 38-39

38.

The next day Dream-eater woke up in a sickly haze,
cast back into the steppe, out of breath after drifting
through a very disturbing dream. She slowly came to,
feeling a hurtful fall into consciousness from on high.

She shuddered, cold with vertigo and a piercing
headache. Her body was both tense and loose.
She opened her eyes and allowed the residual
sense of fear to settle. A powerful premonition.

39.

This was not just another nightmare. Of late she had been
restless and numb, as if a strange electric current had been
switched on by a malicious imp, weakening her nerves.
Slowly, she looked through all the stages of the dream.

In a painful wake through darkness and light, she sought
out the images that had been crowding her dream,
determined as a starved vulture picking scraps of carrion
with voracious hunger through a long summer day.

dream interpreter – Part 1 : 29-37

29.

“Your majesty”, began the prisoner softly.
“Don’t kiss ass”, interrupted the sister curtly.
This abrupt warning brought a stillness
to the room, then the traveller began anew.

“Beg pardon. Where I come from, we honour
the rulers of the land. My name is Marco
Querini, of one of the great families of
Venice, a serene city far beyond this land.”

30.

He flashed his white teeth, and smiled.
There came no response, or change in
expression. Miffed, he continued. “I
have travelled with my relations to the

far East, on several journeys to Xanadu.
My family has a personal relationship
with the supreme Khan of Hangzhou, which
goes back for many golden generations.”

31.

The two women were looking at him in
silence; the young man smiled. Marco
could not read his hosts, though he
felt less like prisoner, and more like

a tourist. “We Querini are Venetian
nobles with a great history, and land
to attest it. We have many possessions,
islands at sea to the East of Venice.”

32.

“The most beautiful of which, and the
most famous, is wonderful Stampalia,
or Astiphalea, as the local fishermen
call it. Venetians are skilled traders.”

“We bring the best deals to your door.”
As he spoke, the smaller woman rose to
her feet. She was barefoot, and her green
garment was bright, which seemed to glow.

33.

He broke off, and as there was no response
from the others in the Yurt, he just sat
stupidly, waiting for acknowledgement.
But he sat a long time without speaking.

At last the small sister came close to him,
and she took his wrist, and seemed to check
his pulse, then she went out without a word.
Dream-eater just sat there cross-legged.

34.

Marco tried in vain to ingratiate himself
with her with fantastical tales of Xanadu,
and Venice, and the journeys he had been
on. She sat there listening effortlessly,

he kept on talking, encouraged by her
half-smile. The young man was drawn in,
increasingly wide-eyed to his ‘slightly’
embellished tales of East and West.

35.

Dream-eater was young with a shapely
round face, and a very nimble body.
She did not seem entirely at ease
with herself, and she seemed angry.

Her face was covered with pimples,
and her hair was short. She dressed in
tight clothing, which showed her form.
Marco soon began to lust after her.

36.

He was a stocky young man, with
thick hairy arms, and a face like
a fox. He talked softly, with a deep
voice which used to make some people

in Venice pay attention to his lies.
He was an expert bullshitter, rising
to every occasion with the right deal,
though he had yet to make his mark.

37.

He was a business-man all in all,
complete with sweet tongue, with an
inexaustible source of confidence,
expertly weaving the art of deceit.

It was hard to get a read on them,
though. And the sister was an utter
mystery! He was exhausted. This
place was the middle of nowhere.

dream interpreter – Part 1 : 23-28

23.

After the long trek, he passed out.
As he rested, the clouds assembled.
A silent rain fell sideways to relieve
the steppe; his captors slowed down

but did not linger. The land became
a bog in an instant, and the horses
struggled on in spite of the weather.
When he finally came to, he was dry.

24.

The inside of a Yurt is like a home
cut out from the dream of existence.
Alone in the badlands one can feel
the whole planet slowly inching on.

A small woman was looking at him
intently. As he woke up in a haze,
first he saw her eyes. Fierce, quiet
almond-shaped mirrors of the soul.

25.

They sat together in silence a while,
the prisoner wet and despondent,
the nomadic princess sitting erect,
looking through him, seemingly at

peace. Yet she was carrying a dark
pain in her heart, and nothing ever
could relieve her of that ghost, she
believed she had been cursed by evil.

26.

She spoke to reassure him: “Stranger,
our ways would have me cut you open,
our traditions hold that you are a spy,
my father would have had you killed.”

“But my father is no more. He gave me
a name. I killed him, and gave myself
a new name. I am Dream-eater, ruler of
the roaming Saka people of this steppe.”

27.

A yet smaller person came in, of very
fair complexion, with features alike
the princess. She was very short,
moving nimbly and quietly cat-like.

Another figure came in, a very young
man who glanced adoringly at the ruler,
and kept his head down, his muscles
resting, his eyes clear and steady.

28.

“This is my sister, stranger. She knows
about all things, and she may yet find
you interesting. And this is my friend
and advisor, who is here to protect us

from bad weather, bad companions or so.
I trust these as family. Who then, is
your family? Where do you belong? Why
are you here? Why are you so afraid?”

dream interpreter – Part 1 : 16-22

16.

Upon his return to the Castle, the pilgrim
became melancholic, and then addicted
to the drink, and then overwhelmed by
family duties. Clearly he found life quite

unbearable. But wait, more about him later.
Now imagine skipping over the ocean across
many miles to a far-away land, to a steppe.
But first dip in waters in front of the Castle.

17.

Right now, back then, a whole armada is
blockading the harbour. That’s the people
following Memetis, here from across the sea.
Friendly neighbours holding siege to the Castle.

That’s one of the armies assembled here
(there). The fleet belongs to the Sultan of
Beştepe, a commander and a hungry ghost.
Definitions of the latter abound, but let us

18.

settle for “a person with control issues”.
Anyway, the Castle is now surrounded,
the trenches are filthy and deep, and the
horses are unstable (no pun intended).

It has been more than twenty years.
A poet called it “Troy’s rival”, as in
equally fantastical fiction. So that’s
at least double the trouble now, surely.

19.

So leap in the ocean in front of Castle,
dodge the ships, past the sunshine,
skip the clouds, beat the storms – reach
the coast, up above perhaps, toward Ilium

(another myth dear to unravished brides,
and school-children on the West side).
So now: that’s a tale of East and West,
as you rightly have guessed,  dear reader !

20.

So then, in the steppe, a very barren
land, full of dull muds and no hope,
where no thing grows, close to a large
and shallow salt-lake, not close enough!

A traveller, a business-man has lost
his path. He was on his way to Xanadu,
or so he thought. Coming from a city
surrounded by water and lies, he knew

21.

well next to naught. He was so young,
so eager. Find worthy love, hoard riches,
please his never-pleased ma and pa,
and so he journeyed to the steppe.

He lost his way though he had followed
the stars. Suddenly, a prisoner to a great
warrior-princess in a very hot place.
Before all that, there was a lot of travel.

22.

Chiefly across endless heaps of mud,
and no grass. Nothing can be found in
the steppe of Kalmuks: not a living thing,
just miles and miles of unbroken clay.

So the prisoner captured by scouts
had time to reconsider his choices,
to beg for a little water, to ask politely
for an explanation. There came none.

dream interpreter – Part 1 : 10-15

10.

He cautiously went out in the rain.
The apple he had left as an offering
had been bitten. Surely, he assumed,
that must have been the evil spirit.

The purple light was glowing in a burn,
but the shadow, the flash in the window
had gone. He had been touched by God.
He went over what God must have meant.

11.

Surely, the light was a sign from above
meant to signal his induction in a world
of knowledge. Surely, he had come all
this way for a purpose. Surely, the spark

that brightly shone in his room was
witness to his hard journey, testimony
of his efforts, and reward for his literal
enlightenment. Surely, that was that.

12.

He stepped out in the open, fool that
he was, and felt the rain avoiding
his body. In the midst of a terrible
storm, he stood with arms outstretched

and claimed that not a single drop had
touched him. More proof, he thought, that
he had been chosen, that he had beaten
the test, and defeated the mocking shadow.

13.

The vision went on through the night,
and after the rain a great stillness
came over the monastery. The pilgrim
was standing motionless where the rain

had left his skin dry, yet looking over
the courtyard with great equanimity.
The moon was shining potently while all
the statues beneath seemed to breathe.

14.

Persistently he kept his addled mind
in a semi-medititative state, while
booming crickets raised several tones
in the air, and the puddle before him

gave reflections of the moon. The statues
were seemingly pointing at the puddle,
and the moon was knowingly bouncing off
stolen light. He felt robbed at heart.

15.

In the hallowed morning, upon rising
the pilgrim distinctly heard kind voices
of angels like children singing praise
in a foreign language. His next choice

had been set in stone. He would return
to the Castle, and work without rest
toward the purpose he had finally found.
He would now follow the inner instincts.

dream interpreter – Part 1 : 4-9

4.

In trying to understand the dream-symbols
of another person, we fill in the gaps with our
own interpretation, assuming our perceptions
to be comparable. Visions and ill-dreams are

gap-fillers in themselves. What is a dream, a vision?
A message from God, as the ancient Greeks intended?
A message from the unconscious? An electrical
phenomenon to be decoded by a quantum computer?

5.

Slowly, the pilgrim rose from the bed of wood,
he moved toward the door. From the other side
of the room, through the window overlooking
the swamp, there came a strong flash of light.

The light was blinding, and he felt confused.
Suddenly all the room lit up; a strange whirring
sound began to drone, like a machine had started.
A heavy undecipherable scent came and stayed.

6.

What the shadow on the wall wrote is subject
of much debate in his frayed mind. It so appeared
then to him, that the devil or a spirit took form
on the wall opposite to the window’s shining light.

The shadow was mocking him with an incredible
jig in a frenzy. As he looked on in amazement, he
saw the monster’s face distort in disgust. Then it
turned from running to a comedy of his artistry.

7.

At home in the Castle, the pilgrim was reknowned
for being a failed artist, and his folly had brought
him far abroad in mysterious lands to seek the light.
Now the spirit was mocking his efforts and talents.

It was all so very personal, as if in this cursed
night all the threads in his life had come together
in a knot, and the knot was being unravelled
before his eyes. His painting was exhausting.

8.

And the shadow on the wall was proving to
him the utter meaninglessness of his efforts,
and the purple light in the middle of the room
was shining all the brighter, and the sound

of mechanical humming was drilling in his ears,
and the scent of spice and moist dread was
filling his senses to the brim. Somewhere outside,
the damp skies hidden from view saw a lightning.

9.

Then a thunder broke the silence, a hard bell toll.
It was a wake-up call for the little foolish pilgrim
looking at the shadows in his monastery cell.
He believed he was being summoned by God.

He was being tested, or so he thought. All of his
life streamed in front of him, and he followed
the mocking dance of the black shadow on the
stained wall until a sharp rain burst his bubble.

dream interpreter – Part 1 : 1-3

1.

Imagine a city like a moving ship on water
timelessly held afloat by two rivers joined;
peopled by descendants of a broad-faced heifer,
famously seduced by a saffron crocus eater.

She was carried away to an island through
the mists, and in the not too distant future
her progeny has forgotten the myth, now
blinded by the numinous broad-faced moon.

2.

What are the Gods of this place?
What hubris? What kind of people?
What sentiment overwhelms them?
What clear vision, hidden nightmare?

Let us call our city the Castle of the Moat,
or Megalo Kastro. But then, recently
one of the castle dwellers went
on a pilgrimage in a distant land.

3.

So he stayed overnight in a monastery,
a vision came to him, a false premonition.
As he was dozing off around midnight,
Shadows began to falter, and a purple

light seemed to glow, he momentarily
forgot who he was, he thought: this is it.
Thus beginning with a dream, we face a
test and will need a dream interpreter.

 

 

notes on drinking

I look for meaning elsewhere, because I have a deep chasm in my breast. They say, we are defined by what we do. And so, I am a thief. My trade is information. Resentment is poisoning your own well, and hoping your enemy dies. My body of glass is shattered every day as I wander through this or that calle or campo. A spy from Genoa in Venice, the lowest being in this amphibian swamp. I hide in plain sight, petrified inside. My mind fills the gaps in the shadows, and I see shapes. Winter in Venice is an event of silence. Waters lapping, eyes wondering, second-guessing. Dull eyes, glazed eyes, glassy eyes, looks of sorrow, looks of pity, faint sun rays smitten by smoky clouds, solitude as soiled coin. Long walks, black friendly eyes, short burning distances, judging me and you.

I have a safe space, where death or else does not exist. This is a city, an empire, an empty castle surrounded by walls of water. It gives the illusion of freedom, just to snatch it away from you. When you are at the edge of it, you can see the illusion falling apart. I have so many secrets inside of me and I forget so much. I am paranoid that I should forget the details of critical information, or that my corrupt mind should re-write the code of what has happened. Every morning I take stock of how much I have forgotten, and try to retrace what my breaking-through fantasy has been at work creating out of ghost stories.

Just woke up, the voices in the calle down below shout up to my window, the cold air bites my jaw. I feel myself sinking in the depths of the nest. Staring at the ceiling, I follow the steps of the old woman upstairs. Her footsteps helped me to keep sane when I first moved to the dead quiet of this nightmarish city.

Everything is simultaneously true. The faithful chanting in the temple that’s in the way of religion; the dark night of the soul, the mindless songs of butterflies, flicking way, worms in space, and all the backdrops to heavy drinking.

I used to have a sixth sense, a dreamer’s ability to connect to the body of the spirit, but now I have lost my spiritual senses, and the bottleneck has moved up from my heart to my brain, and the blood pumping has made me carrion-walking, material in a world of forgotten spirit, and yet, and still


haunted by ghosts. I can so see the light of spirits, but I am numbed out from their conversations, and only the light of the sun can reawaken me briefly to a world full of music and earth-shattering dreams. That was the real world. This is a shadow world, a grey-blue pantomime, brimming in silence and relentlessly judging.

The tarot cards assemble before my eyes, as the evening turns in. The seasons alternate, but there is a downward trajectory that I cannot escape. I have information for you. The empress is haunting me, sceptre above the pine trees: at dawn I faint see the destiny of my mosaic-broken soul. It has been taken, it has been stolen. Stolen from a thief, a spy in a foreign city, stealing secrets as to trade with corrupt men. A cosmic joke, the thief has been burgled.

As such, I drink to drown out the past, to melt the present, to stave off the future. The walls outside my window on three sides block out the light of day, and only the sunset comes to visit after another day that’s here and gone. The long winter of the soul, starving for attention, for approval. Seeking approval, seeking energy to steal from strangers, seeking contact, seeking mystery, seeking for seeking’s sake. The days slide in and out without me noticing, one constant night, only the light footsteps of my upstairs neighbour to set the tempo. Towards what, I forget what. I have forgotten my purpose here in this timeless city.

The distant memory of Genoa, of other stained alleys, of other cloud-murk skies, and of deep seas. The shallow seas guzzling up this lagoon are similar to the shallow depths of my spirit, invisible and unable to connect, a half sunk sandoleto, waiting for your judgement, sideways in the mud, under a leafless fig tree, toward the cemetery, where there is rest.

the room I am renting

the room I am renting

is being redeveloped into student housing. Look at’em line up. Freshers.

It looks like, from here, that the whole ramshackle building has been torn apart.

Everything I have ever owned has been compacted into a block.

No.

It turns out that all the houses I have ever lived in

Are being joined into a fancy new development, a modern complex.

Cozy scandinavian interiors and all.

Including the big haunted house from my teens, in which I lived again in my mid twenties, after uni.

Those long nights alone in the dark, creeping through the never ending corridors.

But now, please… let me access the room I was renting. It turns out that very room was part of the haunted house.

On certain nights, up until quite recently…

I could still feel the touch of her cold hand. The light was on, and I was not frightened.

Just a touch of the old chill.

It turns out that the room I am renting is now part of a fun scary ride, a theme park.

Only for children, just like back then.

This is the way in: vampires only, please.

After you, sir.

No need to be afraid. It’s just a fun ride.