Poetry We Admire: Migration of Dreams


Being asked to move into time
To place wishes and daydreams
Into rivets and seams

—Jasmine Gibson

When you were an animal
Love was just a dream
You’d been climbing your whole life to see.

—Richard McGraw

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

—Langston Hughes

The strays are sunbathing in the yard. 

We’re at the end of another year, but it hardly makes a difference to them. When the sun sets and night arrives they’ll be gone, traipsing after the southbound flocks, and I’ll move a chair out into the patch of fugly turf where they love to lay and arrange these pieces for next week.

Tomorrow night is the dinner party, where Neil is going to have what I’d wager are one too many glasses of wine and then explain to me and everyone else at the table that we can never assume someone understands what we think they do. 

Here we are, he’s saying it now: We can never, ever assume that something that seems obvious to us, is obvious to them as well. It doesn’t matter if they’re your roommate, your parent, your spouse of thirty years. You have to communicate. You have to try.

Days later, far enough to regret not asking — what if the assumption is about ourselves? Who do we tell then?

Maybe that’s what a resolution can be. 

The strays are sunbathing in the yard: How much I love that we get to make what we want of that.

They could be sunbathing in their dreams, too. 

They could be a long way from home.

Are they mirrors? If I ask them and they tell me.

What if the assumption is about ourselves?

The seasons turn, the dreams change, signifying something.

They look so peaceful on the turf, their tails curling into questions.

What have you been denying yourself so well, & for so long?

One more thing to think on as the year comes to a close. I hope you enjoy these poems as much as I have. Happy December, and happy new year.


I was 
starting to think that maybe
hallucinations were an afterlife
come too soon.

from "Gown"

by Thomas Renjilian in Missouri Review

When I first read this poem, I was so drawn into its vivid details and imagination I failed to notice a raccoon was climbing up an oak tree not fifteen feet away. There are so many incandescent moments in here — my favorite among them, “I heard only / foam clumps drooling / from the Purell dispenser, / its faulty sensor tripped as if / by memory.” Some poems I lose for years before remembering. Others, like this one, I know from first reading I’ll keep with me.

blood pumps and 

blood freezes. blood braids
into a rope my ghost tugs

from "Ghost Story"

by Arumandhira Howard in Wax Nine

I love how this poem’s questions don’t slow me down, but propel me forward. “will there ever be a world / real enough to move through?” Howard writes, as we hurtle towards the end of the poem. The questions the piece poses act almost as assertions, and inso doing the assertions of the piece feel all the more absolute. In a lesser writer’s hands this sureness might tip into an off-putting rigidity: Howard’s luminary lines avoid this pitfall, standing as well on their own as they do as parts of a whole — “the first time i died / i slipped into my mother’s / gooseskin.” It’s a hard poem not to love.

Ice-frozen milk—live pearl.
I’m off for a walk.
Somewhere a child is born,
talkative, naive.

from "Hudson"

by Andrey Gritsman in Press Pause Press

Phantasmagoric might not be the word; Gritsman’s poem possesses a kind of clarity to its sequencing that feels almost like improvisation, or music. I’m reminded of my early forays into reading poetry, the work of the beats, but this piece feels more finely crafted and honed than much of the work I’ve read that came out of that period. It’s kinetic, and dreamlike, but it carries a logic to its world, and images aren’t abandoned the very moment they appear — “I have one last miraculous / word to say. / Stop by the post office, / flag fluttering / in the Canadian wind.” And off we go.

Blue jays, out of season, flushing from a tree.

from "Things that mean love, but might otherwise go unnoticed"

by Megan Merchant in West Trade Review 

Merchant recites a quote from Elaine de Kooning at the beginning of the audio recording accompanying this piece — “A painting to me is primarily a verb, not a noun; an event first, and only secondarily an image.” This poem and Gritsman’s seem to be in conversation, though the subject matter of this poem is expansive enough that perhaps it could fit comfortably next to a great deal of other writings. The piece, after all, is more verb than noun; it makes its place.  



Benjamin Bartu