“A person is the product of their dreams. So make sure to dream great dreams. And then try to live your dream”, says Maya Angelou, in Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now.
Lord rest her soul, but I sure hope she wasn’t 100% right on that one. Am I a product of the bad dreams too? And, how exactly does one make sure that they “dream great dreams”? Are the dreams that Maya Angelou speak of the same ones that occasion us at night, or are they the ones we envision during our waking hours, the more figurative ones we author in hopes of achieving?
Apparently, there’s much ado about dreams. Popular artists and everyday people alike, often revere dreams as treasured possessions, worthy of aspiration. Some believe that dreams are the stuff that keeps life afloat– for them, dreams carry a much broader meaning than one can comprehend from one morning’s reflection after a night of rest or unrest. For others, there is a necessity in dreaming, as much of the information revealed in our dreams might not otherwise make its way to us amid the hurriedness of our awake hours.
Some even consider themselves gifted with the power of dream interpretation. They listen with rapt attention as you jabber away, sharing as much detail as you recall, while they try to find signs and make sense of what you share. Though they know nothing about the stuff you’ve shyly omitted, they proceed to spin a tale of what your dream is most likely about, what possible foreboding it holds.
These dream interpreters aren’t often made aware of the dreadful fear that led you to divulge what little you shared in the first place. They aren’t familiar with the overwhelming concern that now engulfs you, the small corners of darkness that threatened to swallow you whole, or worse yet, the crippling dis-ease that has now taken root in your belly, yet you hang on to this “clairvoyant’s” every word, hoping to hear something that ‘sounds about right’, something that will ward off the small seeds of self-doubt that are dangerously close to finding fertile ground.
I know about dreams like that. During awake hours, I claim discernment, yet in these dreams, life isn’t so clear. Instead, the potentiality of these dreams bleed into my terrestrial plains, beg my allegiance, and attempt to weaken my resolve and God-given clarity. Oh, they do that to you too?
Why don’t you let me be
Your dream killer?
I could be like a bad girl with a shotgun
That friend you don’t call…till it’s going down for real
Ready to help you fight
In your time of greatest need
Don’t like guns?
Then how ’bout a stealth bow
I promise you
This archer’s aim won’t miss
Watch me make blood sport of
The most frightening of them
On the darkest of alleys
Put the worst of them on paper
So I can shoot holes in it
Let me torch them
With my unrelenting, piercing light
And let us – you and me
Watch them incinerate
Into lifeless ashes
As they once were
You didn’t think we were just going to
Acquiesce to our dreams
Thought we were going to run and hide
Like some turncoat
Playing afraid in the light
Because they came for us at night
And tried to level
What we worked
Our whole lives to build
In some cases
Now who’s laughing?
No, they cannot have our children
They have no power to undo love
Our love was not built by their filthy hands
Those dreams must die
But only if we first give them life
Not baptize or dedicate them
All nice and welcoming…like
You do a new baby
Just long enough to
Cut off their blood supply
Long enough to loosen their scarves of fear
From around our necks
Long enough to kill them
This time for good
Their ghosts are not welcome
Not in our beds
Or our homes
Or our children
And certainly, not in our real dreams
The ones we’ve crafted so carefully
The ones we know we must dream
The ones that keep us living
While everything else
And I do mean everything else
Threatens to kill us.
Last chance, you!
Give me your dreams
I’ll kill them for you
Pull the trigger without so much as another thought
Lay them bare on the page so I can shoot them up.
Bang bang motherfucker!
Oops, there he went.
I am the product of my dreams, she said.
Bet, I replied
But, I’m gon’ make sure the ones I keep
Of the living kind.
“And what of the others” you say?
I buried the bastards.
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12 thoughts on “Dreaming of A Nightmare Killer”
Really Great. Pulled me in one line at a time until I was ready for you to …bang .. shoot my bad dreams, or at least pierce them with an arrow and watch with me as the unwanted visitor falls to the ground!
I am glad you had such a visceral response to this piece, Jon. I placed myself right at the scene of the “crime”, didn’t I?
ps This post didn’t appear in my Reader. Sorry for the late comment……. 😦
Great questions here. I assumed Angelou was speaking of the border between passion and consciousness. Or dreams and choice. As far as we can choose, we should not only pay attention to our cardinal desires, but also be aware that we might make grand changes so choose our passions wisely and thoughtfully.
It’s said that artists should write first thing in the morning, that’s when our ability to censor ourselves is weakest. I think the science of dreams renders them less scary, as they may be trying to wise us up. 😉
No apologies necessary. I have so much catching up to do, it’s scary. I will get there though…in due time. You’re absolutely right on Angelou. And I agree about writers/ creative artists’ juices flowing early in the morning. Much of what I write – my purest and best of writing and inspiration strikes around 3 in the morning.
Great post! I used to be obsessed with dreams and placed a lot of stock in them. Every once in a while I have a dream that startles me, moves me, inspires me, and when that happens, I can’t let the dream out of my mind. It’s like I want to hold on to it. In my youth, I had a friend who had a book on dreams and their meaning and she’d attempt to interpret mine. I don’t remember any of what she said, but I placed a lot of stock in it back then. I recently discovered that dogs dream, so now I’m wondering what my critters are dreaming about. Knowing Henry, he’s dreaming about escaping the rat trap and heading to Windsor Castle. He thinks he’s royal, after all.
Thanks Monica. King Henry is dreaming of making other critters his subjects. He KNOWS he’s royalty. 😀
I don’t know what your revised but it still makes a point. I still enjoy my dreams. I guess cause I can do things in my dreams I can’t do when I’m awake. I especially like my drug induced dreams. The nights I toss and turn and take something to help me get some sleep.
This reprise simply gives the reader a context for the poem. It isn’t that the nightmare killer wants to extinguish all dreams, just the ones that cause us anxiety, depression, inertia, paralysis, those that keep us thinking small, and the host of other emotions resulting from their unexpected and unwelcomed visits. I do understand your perspective, though it isn’t the emphasis of this particular piece of writing. “Dreaming of A Nightmare Killer” is for those who would rather not keep their nightmares. 😴
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Maya must’ve meant our conscious dreams, those that call to our highest selves. All too often, our subconscious seems to store our hidden waking anxieties which are then woven into nightmares as you so aptly illustrated. Your services are required :).
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You mean you need me to come over there and slaughter some nightmares? I got ya back, lady!
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