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Unghosts of China
Thumbnail sketch of a rising sun in yellow and red. Thumbnail sketch of a rising sun in yellow and red.

Dreamed 2009/9/2 by Wayan


Thumbnail photo of a quilt by Joy-Lily; red and orange flowers on green.
Ink sketch of a room full of sleepers--and one insomniac

Moon and Jupiter seen through clouds

Write my dreams at dawn. Red chili sun.
Soon my room hits 35. I'm overcome.
Flee to the shade of our deck, and sponge
vermilion on a bookcase: faux flame.
Turn this heat to art. Art's all I am.

Next a friend brings me muddy photos to fix--
since Lily's real quilts breathe fire. I slide
the saturation screaming, till it's true. Then I

Fade to black: mix ink cave-dark, and with a dry
brush I illustrate a dream-poem by
Roswila, queen of dreamku: A Gothic Tale. I try

The leftover ink on a rough sketch of my
own dream Sleepers All. Next pencil and digital
tints for that dream of the mad old man who can

Surf the San Andreas, and lay the illos in.
Then polish and trim the text of all...
Gnaw the harsh bark smooth. Art's all I am.

Then to the piano. Lay down a rap
confessing I'm a thin skin smile,
masking a skittish changeling animal.
Still too sad and fursonal--strip down!
Gnaw me smooth for all. Art's all I am.

A respite? In the fat-moon eve, Luna leads
Chihuahua Jupiter on a little walk
through cloudwisps tousled as maestro hair...
we're off to Yoshi's sushi bar to hear
Eight-Legged Monster--jazz and miso. Tasty
if innumerate: I count eleven legs or more
though mostly they play to a count of four.
Too bad! All but a couple of songs are
straight tarantular dances, major-key,
and then the Legs just noodle frantically.

Twice in the evening they slow and swing, oh
lyric snakenotes ooze from trumpet or
baritone sax. Solo so smooth, so low!
But too many legs just spoil the octopus.
(I whine because I long to join and jam.)
Now, 1 AM, I smooth this verse. Art's all I am.

Ink sketch by Wayan of a sad woman with shadowy figures behind her: illustration to Roswila's dream-poem 'A Gothic Tale.'

Thumbnail sketch of an old man apparently surfing on a mirror-still lake.

Sketch of a kneeling man passionately playing a saxophone


I'm in rural China. Rivers, crags. A local girl
tells me her worst woe. And to my cynical

even to me it's new: there's a spot nearby
where legend recounts how she horribly died.
All lies!

Here she stands. Yet her village swears she was killed
in a notably outré way. And happening still!
That is

she's mythically dying there all the time. It gets so dull!
A dam just flooded the gorge, so they trucked her death uphill.
Now she's

memorially mythtaken high on a misty ridge! And why?
Does it matter exactly where you localize
a lie?

Her best friend tells me her worst sorrow. The same!
Supposedly demon-slain, on identical lake-drowned spot:

Folktale and gossip cut her dead too, though she's not.
Their trouble's not personal but a pattern to be fought!
They're so

tired tired tired of it though! Ready to lop their Chi-
nese roots, be defiantly urban & mod. "Can't we
just drop it?"

How can folks see through fake mythtory
to you alive before them, if to the lie
they cling?

Faux Chinese scroll of crags above a river booming with barge-traffic. Two girls lean on a wall, one in a Ghostbusters T shirt. They seem slightly translucent. Are they ghosts? Red calligraphy in the sky parodies Mark Twain: 'Rumors of our grisly deaths have been greatly exaggerated.'


Maybe the dream proposes that I do
what's on the mind of the unghostly two--
strip off all tradition, live or die
bared to my devices, self-invented!
(Accept that all the hog-butchers in Chi-
cago and Wuhan will say "Demented!")
But what would I do? How to begin?
Who is that artless I, the new I Am?

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