Connect with us

Culture

OLIVER’S DREAMSCAPE

                 OLIVER’S DREAMSCAPE

 By Geoffrey Jones

I don’t know how I got here… I suppose my

Parents had sex… I understand the process

Well and practice it as often as my wife will

Allow… And sometimes I practice alone…

 

But the thought of my parents connected

Below the waist is more than my mind can

Handle… Working up a sweat and writhing in

Ecstasy is not my preferred way of imagining

Them together… I try not to think about it

Much…

 

But here I am… Living proof that they tussled

At least once… In a one-bedroom apartment

On Van Nostrand Street… In Jersey… Where

My father worked on the docks and Sinatra

Made a scene…

 

But life began elsewhere for me…

 

*****

 

I am Oliver Wells or so the toe tag says…

It’s cold and dark in this drawer, but what

The hell… I’m elsewhere… Not really here…

Alone and floating somewhere in the ether…

Looking down at this farce in amazement

That anyone should care about anything at

All…

 

And why should we give a damn… About

The proceedings and the daily goings-on…

It won’t change a thing… We all land up like

This sooner or later… Stuck in a drawer…

Spare change in God’s pocket… Forced to

Witness the mess we have created… High

Drama… And a few laughs along the way…

 

*****

 

Radiant Red moves slowly down a dimly lit

Hallway to a dorm room where the ambush

Has been set… Scarlet tresses flow… A hunter

Green dress with paisley sleeves reveals almost

As much as it hides… Her eyes search for the

Number on my door… She finds my room…

 

And there was nothing before… And very little

Since… That she didn’t create or birth on her

Own…

 

A steamy afternoon spent in a musty room…

At the Twin Lakes Motor Lodge… On Route 4

Not too far from the bridge… That was all

It took… And it was there that our fate was

Sealed forever…

 

And that is where life really began…

 

*****

 

A priest is hovering over the drawer in which I

Have been stored like a loaf of rye in a bread

Box… He doesn’t think I can hear him…

 

“Rest in peace”, he mumbles… “God willing”, he

concludes…

 

How pithy… How concise… Not much of a

Benediction… A lousy farewell… Thank you

Very much…

 

The priest tried, I guess… But what the hell…

I’m here… Out of the rat race… My playing days

Are over… But it’s time to sit back and watch the

Game… Extra innings would have been nice… But

It’s the umpire’s call to make… And the bleacher

Seats are just fine with me…

 

I guess I’ve always known… But never really

Accepted… That things would come to this…

But here I am…

 

*****

 

“Oliver. Wake up. You’re having a nightmare,”

Radiant Red says with great concern.

 

“I’m shivering and sweating like a pig”, I tell

her. “My God. It was awful. I thought I was

dead.”

 

“I know. I know”, Red comforts me. “But Ollie

you’re alive. Can you feel my hand, honey?

I’m not going anywhere. You’re alive.”

 

I breathe easily but fear lingers… There’s so

Much I still want to do… Need to do… And it

Scares me to death that I’ll run out of time…

It’s a quarter to midnight on New Year’s Eve

And there’s no turning back…

 

But a dream like that… In a drawer sporting

A toe tag… Will fix your mind right quick… It’s

A wake-up call if ever there was one… And

It’s amazing how smart and insightful we

Suddenly become when a dream… Or the

Practical realities of everyday life… Remind

Us that there is no escape…

 

And that all of us… Each of us… Are artists in

Mayhem… Desperately searching for ways to

Express our true selves… While knowing full

Well that the tide is turning and will sweep

Us out to sea…

 

Better get the ball rolling… Better get your

Ass off the couch…

 

But there’s hope as we grow old… As we

Age and grow wiser with the years… And

It’s a wonderful thing to watch as shallow

Souls in beautiful bodies become beautiful

Souls in aging shells…

 

“Everything’s okay, Ollie. Sleep tight… I’ll

see you in the morning”, Radiant Red

whispers.

 

I close my eyes and drift off…

 

*****

 

Cuffy’s sells tee shirts in Chatham… Down

The block from the Impudent Oyster where

We celebrate anniversaries and sunsets…

Where the family gathers for graduations and

Wakes and such… Radiant Red sports a Red

Sox cap while I sit on a curb sipping warm

Beer from a tea cup… A fire truck passes

The Wayside Inn like a parade float in July…

Radiant Red waves for me to join her inside

Cuffy’s but I can’t open the door… It’s locked…

I push my shoulder against it in panic… I hate

Being separated from her like this…

 

A sorcerer in three-piece suit motions me

Inside while holding up a tee shirt and a

Key… A water fountain spouts obscenities

And threats… As a cash register won’t stop

Ringing even though there’s no one waiting

In line…

 

Jimmy G curses under his breath as he

Scrapes chewing gum from the bottom of

His shoe with a popsicle stick… A timid voice

From the distant past urges me to call God

For help… From a pay phone that charges

A thousand bucks for a local call… But long

Distance calls are always free…

 

Radiant Red fades away with tears in her

Eyes… She’s pushing a baby stroller out

Cuffy’s back door while steadying herself

With an ivory cane… She slowly turns and

Waves good-bye… I smile sadly… Weakly…

And thank her for the hunter green dress

With the paisley sleeves… Cuffy’s will never

Be the same…

 

Nor will I…

 

*****

 

“Jesus Ollie. Wake up”, Radiant Red shakes my

pillow. “Is it something you ate for dinner. What

gives”, she asks.

 

“It’s weird”, I tell her. “I don’t’ know what

the hell’s going on with all these goddamned

dreams.”

 

“Go back to sleep, hon. It’s the middle of the

night”, she says. She turns over and takes most

of the blanket with her.

 

“I’ll try,” I tell her.

 

The pewter light from a three-quarter moon

Passes through an errant cloud and seeps into

The room.

 

I nod off again…

 

*****

 

The sorcerer in the three-piece suit stands

At the foot of my bed… He holds a fountain

Pen in one hand and a legal pad in the other…

There’s a negotiation going on… There’s a

Deal he wants to make… But I’m not buying…

 

He reads a poem an English teacher once

Asked me to recite in class… I hated her for

This… But the poem has stuck with me for

All these years… It made little sense to me

Then… But now I understand… The tone of

The sorcerer’s voice is both promising and

Pessimistic… It’s a matter of perspective I

Suppose…

 

Time clocks and watches

Speed trials and heats

Of hourglass madness

In the throes of defeat

Of calendar pages

In decades and years

Of meaningless banter

In crocodile tears

Votive lights flicker

On whispering seas

Eternal indifference

In a season’s reprise

Heartbeats and corpses

In cradles and graves

Liturgical frenzy

In souls to be saved

Another day closer

To pending demise

Of faint absolution

In a sinner’s disguise

Sun dial regalia

In a blue harvest moon

Vainglorious relic

In Magdalene’s womb

Vibrant todays

Die frigid and cold

While waiting for peace

In misery sold

While betting today

On new years to come

A soul should be shaken

To find there are none

 

*****

 

Hmm…

 

Thank God… The sun rises… Radiant Red is

Still sleeping… She rests comfortably on a

Satin pillow… Her hair arrayed around her

Like a scarlet halo…

 

I’m exhausted from the turmoil of the night…

These dreams…These goddamned dreams…

And sleep has become a panorama of anger

And joy… A gallery of images, oddities, terrors,

And amusements that make no sense to me…

 

There’s no need to rise as Red lies in bed

Without a whimper… Wrapped in the blanket…

And out like a light… I close my eyes again

To steal a few extra minutes of sleep… And

Here we go… The sorcerer returns…

 

****

 

In a sudden twist of random birth

I arrived without a fear

Consigned to a world of imperfection

In the echo of a mother’s tear

 

In major phases of awkward growth

I stumbled often along the way

With disrespect I boldly challenged

All my father had to say

 

Standing tall and posturing grandly

Denying fear with cautious hope

That all this rage defies an age

Where living means to barely cope

 

In restless peace I acquiesce

My brittle bones have brandished swords

Without regret or validation

I disappear in silent chords

 

*****

 

Radiant Red rustles and kicks the blanket off

The bed.

 

“Oliver, wake up”, she says.

 

And I do…

 

She wipes the sleep from her eyes and slowly

Plants herself on the bedroom floor…  She

Reaches for the heavens and stretches loudly.

 

I kiss her on the forehead.  Red kisses me back.

 

“And so… did you sleep well last night”, she

Asks with only a minor hint of sarcasm.

 

I don’t answer.

 

The day breaks… I yawn… Coffee is brewing…

And the morning paper waits to be retrieved

From the front porch…

 

“Good morning Mr. Wells”, a kid on a bike

shouts as he peddles his way to school.

 

A Catholic girl in a plaid skirt and navy blazer

Waits for a school bus that will soon whisk

Her away to St. Cecelia’s for theology class…

And other subjects that will manipulate and

Blow her mind…

 

A neighbor proudly waters his lawn in his

Bathrobe and slippers… A very important man

In a three-piece suit passes by on the way to

Anderson Street Station… You can tell he’s

Very important because he never ever smiles…

A station wagon full of kids fails to come to a

Full stop at the intersection and barely misses

The boy on the bike…

 

I sip coffee from a mug I bought at Cuffy’s last

Summer… My mind wanders… What else is there

To do… And this is the stuff of dreams… And this

Is where life begins…

 

*****

 

Across the asphalt plane he danced

With arms outstretched as though

He were flying… Dodging cars on the

Searing pavement… Dressed in rags

And humility…As people stared and

Ridiculed… While failing to see the

Beauty of his gift…

 

Promises are forgotten and memories

Fade away… As he digs down deep to

Recall who he was… Ah yes… The

Archaeology of Being… And the lyrics of

His lifetime are lost… Trapped inside like

An insect in amber… While he searches

For hints and clues…

 

But sometimes the answers are found

In the questions… And sometimes there

Are no answers at all…

 

And there is no way home from here…

 

Awash in a sea of uncertainty he drifts

Alone… Where men often lie… But

Seldom do they listen…

 

To the Pilgrim determined to fly…

 

*****

 

And it’s all good…

 

Radiant Red arranges her hair in a gilded

Mirror that hangs in the foyer… But she is

Not about vanity…

 

Her beauty and her life are quite the same…

No fuss… No bother… No adornment… Red

Is simply Red… She grabs a sweater and heads

Out the door for a walk in the mist… I watch

Her as she turns the corner and disappears…

 

Everyone is at peace… Everything is perfectly

Aligned… The world is in order… Exquisitely

Balanced… Or so it casually seems…

 

At least until Oliver Wells places his head on

A pillow and retires for the night…

 

Before submitting to the fear and the joy…

 

Before drifting off into a dream…

 

Again…

 

As Radiant Red whispers, “Sleep tight…”

 

 

Newsletter Signup

Join our email list to stay connected.

Written By

Advertisement
Advertisement

Advertisement

Newsletter Signup

Join our email list to stay connected.

©2019 Atlanta Tribune: The Magazine

Connect
Newsletter Signup

Join our email list to stay connected.