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poem: the gift of peaceful nights & happy dreams

March 10, 2008

Another poem for the Poetry Train with a train in it! This is from the 3:15 Experiment and was published in between sleeps: the 3:15 experiment 1993-2005.

The “nightmare” mentioned in the poem is actually a night terror. One of the bizarre aspects of Night Terrors is that you can’t remember them in the morning, or even really right after you have them. Over the years, I have tried to remember them better. By writing them down sometimes during the 3:15 experiment, I have some records about them. It seems I can remember more about them in the middle of the night than I can in the morning. Possibly the act of writing them down commits them to memory as well because I can still see the images from this one.

Night terrors rarely have narratives, like dreams do, but this one had a hint of one. It was still clearly a night terror in that it the threat was there in my home, just outside my window and then by my bed.

for more dream inspired poems, go to readwritepoem

August 25
315am Friday 2005 Ventucky

Been up since 230am
when a nightmare
woke me screaming
It’s hard to go back
to sleep when a
bony arm and hand with
saggy flesh has
reached up from under
the bed to get you

Lying there awake I could watch
the sliver of old moon
creep across the bed
then lighting my flesh
and my way as I wander
through it to get a glass
of water in the kitchen
the moon faint enough to
let stars show on this
rare clear night

Nights like these I
appreciate my lover
his hold on me
increasing my grip
in this reality and not
that other his hold
on me his strong presence
there his calm breath
brings my breath back home
His warmth his few
words let me find me
let me sort through the
confusing painful terrifying
images to find a way
to articulate what I have
experienced to find a
narrative for images that
lack one: I had
killed this girl off and
after years of watching
waiting she was finally
coming to get me

Lying here after speaking
not fully awake and not
really asleep haunted by the
images of her I listen
to the sounds of the night
the train passing through
the heavy trucks in the fog
the bed creaking as he
gets comfortable and falls
back to sleep the baby’s
occasional whimper

I am reluctant to rejoin
the sleeping the dreaming
the world of my slumber
lacking peace the conflicts
and fears of my days seeping
into the subconscious of my

I ask the baby each time
he wakes: did you have a
good sleep? Uh huh
he says yeah he says
Did you have good dreams?
Yes he says uhhh huhhhhh

Does he even know what dreams are?

If I could ask for one thing
for my child perhaps
that might be it:
The gift of peaceful
nights and happy dreams

9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 10, 2008 2:11 am

    The confuseness after a nightmare, but the reconfort of your lover…Like that imaginery, because in this poem, your lover didn’t seem to realise he was conforting you!

  2. March 10, 2008 2:19 am

    Very vivid images, not the dream so much as the world around you after the dream.

  3. March 10, 2008 4:55 am

    You ought to post this at readwritepoem: they have a dream prompt this week.

    Feel free to use “Funeral with Coffee” in your lit class. Be sure to mention to your students that I have a book for sale :)

  4. March 10, 2008 7:29 am

    Hey AP! I’m back! Yay! Thanks for your notes to me.

    I’ve heard you say several times that you have night terrors, so I finally looked it up on line ( It’s really fascinating and sounds frightening. I did not realize it was considered a “sleep disorder” and didn’t understand the difference between a “night terror” and a “nightmare.”

    I was very pleased to learn from the above website that “Night Terrors are a medical ailment and not demon possession.”

    I like the way the poems ends, btw. The last few stanzas. And the contrasting of the nightmarish images with the gentleness of the moon and your lover.

  5. March 10, 2008 1:21 pm

    Good that you have kind of recorded your night terrors. I simply forget those in the mornings.

    I like the way it ends.

    nowhereland becomes neverland

  6. March 10, 2008 2:52 pm

    I really love this – it’s very serene after the terror:

    ‘Lying there awake I could watch
    the sliver of old moon
    creep across the bed
    then lighting my flesh
    and my way as I wander’

  7. March 10, 2008 3:30 pm

    yes, danika, it IS reassuring that Night terrors aren’t demon posssession!! because at times, it has seemed like the only reasonable answer!

    15 years ago there was little if anything to be found about them, esp for adult sufferers. but there’s more info now. what a relief to know that it’s not just me! what i have been learning, however, has been quite disturbing…

    thanks, tiel, for suggesting i go to readwritepoem–as you can see from the change in my post, it went and think i’ve signed up–will ahve to check back later and see what other people did.

    and thanks, everyone for the comments! it is very confusing and discombobulaitng after a night terror and the poem tries to show the ways i bring myself back “home”

    art predator

  8. March 10, 2008 4:56 pm

    was good working with you at the fandango!

  9. March 14, 2008 3:26 pm

    I’m glad your link issue was solved. Your son is a cutie!

    Your poem talks to me about dreams, family, relationships, and wanting the next generation to live even better than the last. Very human. Lots of strong images, such as:
    bony arm and hand with
    saggy flesh has
    reached up from under
    the bed to get you

    That’s a night terror!

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