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Dreamed 1981/10/10 by Wayan
We're fire lookouts. Our cabin, glass,
Heron-rears atop a forest hill. I rule
a team of fire-fighting little cats
being field-tested. Not just trained--
they become a train! Fire-cats link
to make a tiny steamtrain purring o'er
ridges, crags, unerringly toward fire.
Crews trail quick on our trampled track.
Camp on a riverbeach at eve. We'll reach
the front tomorrow. But one cat short.
I show her photo round, 'explaining' "She
was exhausted, wouldn't leap o'er
the planterbox at our greenhouse door.
Time ran out, so I had to shoot her."
If you call that justified! Sounds
so thin even to me. Now, though, she
reappears, hale. Firecats who die
in the smoke-bruised glow of day
resurrect at eve. This is, after all, a
Next morn, we climb over pillow-hills
with heather-cloth in bright rust-hues.
A world of lovely strange. Look down
from a blanket-ridge onto the Fire
bed midslope. Quickly quelled; it was
already starved. Quilt-tinder failed.
We're packing to chuff on home to Lookout
when a human fire brigade arrives, red-clad,
with a gleaming engine all envy. Golden bell.
They bear a small red coffin. Their pall
Bearers hold a kitten-cinder: brave daughter
of the greenhouse cat I martinetly slew.
The poor kit scorched to death. Fire-heroine. I
say "We're experimental, no regulation crew;
a RED coffin's unrequired." Their captain says
"We thought departmental colors would be
only what the kit deserves--but of course you
knew her better." I think things through,
Say "You're right, and I'm glad you did.
Of course she deserves full honor." Such
Memorials are for living not the dead. I
just privately think it a waste of glossy red
since night-breath fans all our cat-coals
back to red flame: revives our lost souls.
Half awake now, I feel my leader-fuss
herding our indestructible cat-team
is like Jane's Emma, managing friends'
loves to serve the fading walls of class.
Or like that crazy Frenchman in the film
Dear Inspector, who hovers to protect
his delicate daughter's sweet pussy by
fatal-accidenting every man she dates.
You only hurt the ones you herd. They're cats.
And pussies train themselves. They learn.
Oh, let the bedfire burn.
haunts the air. Feel wrong all over; fear
in driver's seat. I toil in a Seattle mu-
seum, security-mad: inspections, lines,
thug-checkpoints rasp my nerve until
I abruptly snap. "I quit!" Unheard. I slip
Round a portal by cracks unguarded,
uncarded. Surely they must surveil
these ducts. Baffled why they fail,
let me get away with me.
It's just a wider maze, chuting me to
a psychodrama scene. Quaver "I'm lost--
can you show me out?" Elegant Lu-
cinda the Cool Girl snorts in scorn,
but Beryl the Busty Nurse leads me on.
I try to say what i happening to me [sic]
but now my victim rationale
my losting hath ulterior goal: to shake
off habit. What I label "fool mistake"
ain't error--just an avalanche side
of me that I'd really rather hide.
Desertion, 'scape to newer maze,
Childish help-me cries! All tries
to unlearn fossil me--derail my train.
Error and pain (I'd swear an oath)
Pain and terror foster
- Fires, smoke: my body's inflamed. Under allergic stress today. Dirty air.
- Cats revive at night even from fatal trauma: get extra sleep! Rest and dreams don't help every invalid, but they help me--give me nine lives.
- Jane's Emma: Jane Austen's Emma, who fondly thinks she's a matchmaker helping her friend win Mr. Right, when in truth she hinders the match her friend really wants
- Kitten revives: I've been reading Finnegans Wake. There's no apostrophe; so, not just "A wake for Finnegan" but "Finnegans will wake." And so dead Finnegan does, at book's end; and so the Irish did, at empire's end. Maybe I will too.
- What i happening to me [sic]: Freudian slip as I wrote the dreams. I'm doing all this to myself it seems.
- Interpretation in last verse: part of the dream, not a waking intrusion! I often have self-interpreting dreams.
- I reordered the dreams. "Pain and Error" came first that night, with its abstract insight; next came two brief dreams developing the theme; last, the extravaganza "Fire-Cats." For the poem, I felt the story should go first, then the step back to aphorize. Purists can read them reversed.
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