In dream I go back to the old basement apartment with the garden out back my bedroom, a common room I shared with my brother, looked out on. At night, a small agile jumping goat, dark coat, white footed, small horns, fond of balancing atop just about everything, leaps about, stops to perch on the brick wall, cute, fun to watch, a playful youth. And then, to discover with some surprise, a lion and a tiger who look in through the windows at me, as they stretch out lazily, with some interest.
I'd forgotten writing, the beauty and mental health of it, amidst the usual toils and the weekly therapy sessions and whatever other concerns were troubling and weighing upon my mind.
And once through the workweek at the bar, the day off, the writing was difficult, impediments in the mind, sins of the week sitting upon me, uncertainty by mood.
I could not easily let out of my mind the incident, my telling a regular customer 'how about just water tonight,' and she said, why, for what reason, honestly puzzled as she was, and I said, no, nothing, but if you want to talk to (the manager by name)... and she said, I'm not dining tonight, and I'm going to go back home and have a glass of wine, and I felt terribly bad, because she'd come in, noticed my haircut, said she'd had a good day, looked fine. But for the incident the previous evening, and maybe, we speculated she might not remember upbraiding a young woman sitting next to her about how privileged she was, thus upsetting her. And the boss said, if she's upsetting other customers... then I'll talk to her. We were all concerned. He used to do yoga with her a long time ago. Tell her she needs to take a break.
What to do on a day off. First, the dishes in the tub in the sink, after making my little green pot of green tea. Assemble the laundry for the process. It had been a busy busy Jazz Night up at work, and the boss, the owner chef in from overseas, was hanging out with his pals late. Not too much collateral damage, but still, the weird feeling, not so bad, but the anxiousness that follows the events of the workweek, as if one had forgotten to do something in closing. The big guy with the big belly didn't seem to wish to pay for his Jameson's. Chef put on some good techno type music and had a great conversation with his chef buddy.
Guilt, embarrassment, mixed with the sense of somehow finding the job a good fit, on my own terms.
I call my mom and she assuages my mind on a number of things and tells me that I was doing the right thing by the person I suggested no wine tonight. And she's called her oldest friend who lives back in our old hometown, whose concern for her occasional vagueness prompted a minor falling out. I'd encouraged her to call.
I'm a Capricorn. Is that the meaning of diminutive mountain goat in my dreams. What did the lion and the lioness want with me, looking in through the window fixing their eyes on me as if hungry. The goat had no trouble with them. And it was, is, a lovely little outdoor place, pebbled, ivy, shaded by trees. I fed feral cats one year and built a shelter for them for the winter. And they would look in, coming close to the door to remind me they needed to be fed soon enough, the mother teaching her litter to hiss at the strange animal before them, hungry. The goat seems happy enough and I am pleased there is such wildlife here, in this little sanctuary within, hidden from the street.
Googling the meaning of goats in dreams, the suggestion of capriciousness and--great--sexuality, is less satisfying than the general dream itself. A poet should be happy with a visit from totemic animals, I suppose.
Write about the street, Pani Korbonska used to say to me, with some glee over the sound of that.
Bored with myself, I walk over to work, hoping to catch the Chef before he flies out back on his way to his life in Bali, and my friend Jeremy is there behind the bar, and we have an interesting conversation with two nice women who used to be schoolteachers. And the sort of bad feeling of suggesting to our regular friend that she not drink is today sensed as a great relief, because she is not here to worry about and make adjustment for. Peace is in the room, there is no drama. My friend has to go to a bachelor weekend for his best friend out in Deep Creek Lake. Last weekend he was in Vegas for the same, and he feels a bit partied out, and he wants to move soon to his new apartment out in Annapolis.
It's good to get out of the house. The ideas seem to flow a bit better.
And so I drink my tea, slowly waking up. Writing is really boring somedays. Like you'd rather be doing something else. You think of the nice girl you met on-line.
It can be nervous work, writing, and the hard thing is to somehow let the anxiety and the nervousness dissipate. You're trying to harness the nervous horses of the mind, to hope they will pull the carriage and the writer gently and steadily, rather than bolting, and you have to, I suppose as much as anything, accept the pace at which the wilding colts will carry you forward to where there is substance and maybe even meaning. You know the meaning is ultimately found in things like kindness and honesty, neighborly things, the communal effort to live with respect toward nature, creature and planet. Maybe you couldn't do it without that nervousness, as Dostoevsky was nervous, as writers can be a shy breed of people, walking between the great polarity of public and private, material and absorption, the reordering in the mind, that honeycomb-like thing we construct to maintain life and environment. And this is why the idiot is the serious one.
That climb, back and forth, back and forth, the chasm, the gap enough to make you queasy and upset, looking for something to hold onto... The unsafest spot is that aloneness before the page, the phone calls gotten out of the way, the socializing work gotten out of the way, the workweek trimmed off, pruned, a sufficient cleaning and restock done.
We don't know the meanings of our own dreams, but that they are dress rehearsals our inner minds want us to work out. To face the lion's den in the familiar, while other creatures go about safely, untouchable. Fortunate that there is someone there, often enough, to help out, spiritual being or otherwise, comfort. That must be the pleasure, if you will, of being a Jonah, the sea swallowing you and then the Leviathan, to cough you up, reformed, afresh, knowing of your duties and facing them. Stunned as you must be by the whole thing.
I was a hurting fellow, and then I got turned around, and faced the good work that falls under tending the old bar. Medication let me see that, in all its sad but happy lovely beauty, perhaps the most spiritual thing you could have done with your life, though that too could have been rendered in other forms perhaps just as well.
For the writer, it's always, 'depart from me, oh Lord, for I am a sinful man,' thence to be lifted up in all your worry and pain and angst. You've looked in the mirror of the soul and somehow been forgiven, cleared in some small way to write about it, much as it will always mystify you, nervously.
And so a man must face a woman, in a great state of not deserving her, and she seeing to the forgiveness. I mean, that's the whole thing, my single bit of offering to the field of literary criticism, that there is this root in all stories, the great happening, when she comes along, or does not, or goes missing for somewhat a long time, changing completely in form.
And even writing itself is the same; I don't deserve the sentence, the story, the feminine insight, the forgiveness inherent in putting something down on paper.
Wipe your hand across your mouth,
the worlds revolve like ancient women,
gathering fuel in vacant lots.
Like the snowflake-like sweetness of real salt, the floral minerality upon the tongue, far beyond the politician, or the administrator, but of He who layeth the foundations of the world.
Writing, like science, will put the fear of God into you, and you know, like your mother, the whole thing could come falling down, breaking apart, particularly should that divine foundation be upset of sufficiently offended. The lion's den, the facing of peril even in your own backyard, for the lion and the lioness could reappear at any moment, eyeing you with hunger burning bright.
The great literary things and forms are often the obscure things, created, hammered together out of some strange whim or reason, the invention of the play, Pepys' diary, Samuel Johnson, the poets, as they will always carry within their bones and heart that highest aspiration, those done through a series of low fall-like things as adult walking is falling in control.
The barman's diary that forgot to write down much of the specifics, the juicy details of any evening, as if a commentary on invisible things, fancies, chimera that only those who are alone would recognize and understand. Who knew, the general fodder of the position, even if not revealed or seen directly, as most would conceive of the writing about things that happen, he said this, she said that, this happened, and then that followed and when I woke up the next day I was a bit hungover or dry in the mouth with strange indefinable aches throughout. Part of the fishing and hunting life, realized, and then controlled now that it should be understood.
When, then, shall the captive of the den be released, if ever, the den of lion to be transformed into that of Christ in symbol.