Wednesday, October 8, 2014


This morning when I got out of bed, I walked out on the front porch and squinted at the heavens to see if I could glimpse the blood moon that was forecast to appear. I had been reading about the eclipse for several days and anticipated that I could glimpse it if I searched the heavens long enough. Outdoors, all I saw was the effects of a blustery storm that had passed through Sewanee last night—limbs down, heaps of wet leaves, and more of the crop of large green acorns shaken from the white oaks surrounding our cottage.

At the breakfast table, the topic of conversation moved quickly from "no blood moon" to lucid dreaming, a subject about which I know very little. However, a blurb on the Internet intrigued me because the lucid dream trainer talked about keeping a dream journal, a practice I once tried. I confess that I failed miserably in my attempt to enhance creativity and poetry writing through the process of recording dreams.

The basic premise of lucid dream training is that the dreamer can gain some control over certain actions in a dream or can manipulate the experience within a dream to assure him that the dream isn't real. Better still, nightmare sufferers can benefit from learning techniques for controlling dreams to develop an awareness of how to dispel the boogabears that plague them. Sometimes lucid dreams occur naturally when a dreamer experiences a strange happening, and when she stops to determine if the dream is real, she realizes she's in a dream. I guess you could call this a "reality check." Readers will be surprised to read about the number of trainings in lucid dreaming that appear on the internet and about the number of advocates of the lucid dreaming practice.

After I read several Internet entries, I pondered Wittgenstein's famous saying, "We are asleep. Our life is a dream. But we wake up sometimes, just enough to know we are dreaming." Was Wittgenstein a lucid dreamer?

Last month, I published Night Offices, a book of poetry about insomniacs who "recite the night offices," and this morning as I re-read it, I wondered if the inspiration for writing poetry occurs naturally within a lucid dream state and is responsible for the awake "aha" moment of creative expression that follows the nighttime dream. Many famous musicians conceived nocturnes and symphonies during night hours, and sleep experts often advise us to "sleep on it" when we have a particular problem that we can't solve during the daytime. Are we in a natural-occurring lucid dream state at that time?

The subject fascinates me because I'm not only an insomniac, I'm a victim of nightmares, and I'd like to lay to rest the phantoms of the night that often assail me.

Here's an example of a poem in Night Offices that may or may not have been born in a lucid dream:


If I were to arise
and go into my study,
watch shadows flicker on the walls
rather than entangle myself
in the warm sheets of insomnia
that Benjamin Franklin
would have left to cool awhile
while he battled his sleeplessness,

I would open the blind
to the sight of stars scattering
in the inky sky,
their silver points piercing
my Unconscious, bringing up
words to a blue screen
winking on a fresh page,

and I would ponder
how I miss, at night,
(and during daylight hours)
typewriter keys clacking
in a disharmony of sound,
executing words with loud taps,
making sure the darkness knew

I had not written my last stanza,
a sound signaling
that someone out there
would soon be turning pages
in a quiet room,
and the poems,
by their noise alone,
would know they had a right to live."

Note: This poem may have been more of a lament for an old-fashioned typewriter than an ode born in a state of lucid dreaming!!

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