Placing Dream Images in Poems

       -for Mary Rowlandson
I pull out my own tongue,
having no trouble grasping it.
I tear it out gradually,
and when it comes loose, I fling it on the quilt,

having no trouble grasping
I must live now without a tongue.
When it comes loose and I fling it . . .

read the rest of the poem here.

Since childhood, I’ve had occasional vivid dreams – the kind that are so weird, or colorful, or fantastic that they woke me up. When I started writing poetry (also as a kid), I thought the images and settings from those dreams belonged in poems.

Sadly, though, the images and settings by themselves didn’t translate very well for an audience. More than one creative writing teacher told me to ditch the dreams — they didn’t mean anything to anyone but me.

Many years later, I’ve found a way to make it work (sometimes) by placing those vivid images in a real-life contexts. The result is sometimes surreal, but the poems are getting published. “Unedited” is the latest one, which came out this weekend in Issue #19 of the fabulous journal, Rogue Agent

Mary Rowlandson, by the way, was the purported narrator of Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, perhaps the most well-known of the “captivity narratives” popular in Colonial America. However, the voice of that narrative sounds so much like the voice of Cotton Mather (the same dude that promoted the Salem Witch Trials) that I’ve often wondered if Rowlandson’s  words, or even her ideas, were edited.

Here’s to living unedited by those in authority.


2 thoughts on “Placing Dream Images in Poems

  1. ‘If only to uncover another…’ what a stunning final image. It’s interesting that I’ve found the same thing with getting short stories published, editors seem to like the mingling of the surreal with the everyday. Great blog site.


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