Posted by: normanlgreen | May 19, 2012

Dream, May 19, 2012 fly with the songwriter

Dream, home, 7:18 am

I cross a high, arched footbridge to pass over a canal. On the far side, a plywood mill painted orange – the discarded pieces, broken bits from the sheared wood that they press into the laminated sheets, are piled beside the building, to be hauled away and pulped. The sun is low in the East, but it is warm and humid. I wear an old comforter draped over me. It is of unbleached cotton, ragged and worn as a cloak, though it is likely my bedding at night. An acoustic guitar’s neck bulges under the blanket, my left hand kept on the neck as I walk around this industrial district.

I decide to cross back over to the South side of the canal, but do not find the bridge where I expect it. I walk below the bank heading downstream. Ahead I see another mill and past it a gray bridge. Pedestrians pass each other, going both ways. Repair work is being done on the bridge, so the entrance has been detoured, and I cannot find my way up the ramp.

Further down the bank people wait, seated on the sunny grass slope. Though there is no constructed pathway, this is where folks wait for a walk-on ferry. I join them, though I have no fare in my empty pockets. I climb the bank and see that the canal is a quarter-mile wide at this point.
The whistle blasts on the ship and we enter a passenger salon – low ceiling, windows all around the exterior bulkheads, benches and booths. I remain standing, tented in my blanket which parts in the front to reveal my guitar. Across from me, two young men lounge on a bench. One of them points at the guitar and asks me to play something. I ask what he would sing. He names a song, which I know to be a twisty sing-a-long popular with his generation. I tell him to sing, and I will pick it up as we go. He and his friend are joined by a few other youngsters, but my blanket has gotten tangled in my guitar strings, deadening my sound. I try to shed the comforter, but the sharp string ends up at the tuning pegs have snagged the cotton, and I cannot tear it all away. The singers give up on me. The song peters-out. By the time I get the strings cleared of cotton batting, another young man starts half-speaking a lyric. I say “a talking blues!” I start in on the familiar intro to 90 percent of all talking blues. The kid looks surprised and stops singing.

The ferry has docked at our destination, but some people choose to stay on board, using the ship as a hostel. Some of the kids point a barrel-chested man with dark, curly hair – a respected song-writer. He looks to a pad of paper before him and sings mid-volume in a rich baritone, testing a new lyric. I comp him with plucked cords – sloppy finger picking as I have lost my pick. He looks up from his pad and smiles. I say “You have a great voice. Not just here” I point to his throat, “But here.” I point to his yellow pad. (He writes in blue ink)

“My voice changed after I found the book.”

I ask which book. He points to a hardback volume of Guthrie’s Bound For Glory. I confess my admiration for Guthrie’s writing, if not his personal choices.

It is morning once again, and the songwriter invites me to hike with him to a place he goes to every day. “It’s fifty miles, but it is where I gets my cake.” I ask if that is not a long trek for cake. “Not just any cake – Political Cake.” He winks broadly and heads for the door. I follow. On shore, we pass through a waiting room at the ferry terminal – old with yellowed paint and two back-to-back lines of benches in the center of the room. As there is plenty of head room, I offer to teach the singer to fly. Less risky inside, and it will save us much time moving the fifty miles to the “cake”.

I launch myself and softly circle the ceiling. My friend seems uncertain. I fly through a breeze-way to the next, larger room. By now, I can feel that he has taken the risk and flies at my heals. We pass through a door to the outside, land on a flat roof for a moment, then take the leap. I lose a little faith and fall a dozen feet to the roof of a blue delivery van, but bounce up. I explain that it is the belief that allows us to fly. We sail over fallow fields. A small town gets larger on our approach.

The town is only three streets deep and two blocks long, but has been decorated with care and style. All of the buildings that face the main street are two-story commercial outlets from late in the nineteenth century. Each has been painted a deep base color – dusty black red, or bottle blue, or deep purple. We land on the second story ledge of the blue building. Its face has been augmented with castings for eight leaping fish that extend from the front of the building, arching out over the sidewalk. All of the shops have been decorated in a similar manner, sculpted with lines of figurehead women from the prows of ships, or lines of giant parrots or barrel-of-monkeys chimps – one arm looped up and one looped down. Each sculpture has been hand painted in bold greens, yellows and reds. I think of Camden Town in London.

The song-writer and I leap down to the other side of the main street and walk through a long hall that runs the length of the building. The wall to our right opens onto funky old shops – something like the lower levels of Pike Street Market in Seattle. The singer’s meeting hall, source of his “political cake”, is somewhere down this passage. On the solid wall to our left, the purple paint is broken by posters for events and ceramic bas relief. One small outcropping of art depicts a plate full of colorful pills with writing impressed into the dish. It read: “It’s a bum deal, kid. Keep moving.” Apparently drug dealers frequent these halls and exploit young runaways.



  1. wow! great dream — flying with song writer.

    • have not yet extracted a disturbing dream that preceded this by 4 hours. remembered it fully at the time, but was unwilling to rise and record.

  2. The level of detail you record is outstanding. I have been having so many in depth dreams lately but I have been too unwell to wake to write them. Then I forget them, frustratingly.

    • i look forward to your next post.

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