No one sings like you anymore

Essence of Dreams by Chris Cornell
Posted on 10/13/2008
“The essence of a dream can follow you all day long. Sometimes two or three days. I have had dreams as a little kid that I remember like they were yesterday, though as time goes on these dream are sometimes hard to tell from actual events as they survive in my memory.

I am fascinated with the essence factor of dreams, period. They are as real as the essence felt from the ambience of an actual place, like a house you grew up in. Your favourite bar, or your school. The first Christmas tree you see every year, the smell of it, and especially songs. Some feelings these environments evoke are awful, some magical. All of them completely real.
Real enough that numerous cultures throughout history have believed that the dream world is every bit as important and substantial and a vital part of human life as the conscious state. Some mysticisms actually look at the world of dreams as being the “true and only world” and everything else an illusion. For my money, if you put an ice pick through your hand, I think it will prove to be a pretty fucking good illusion.
Last night I had a dream that has been following me all day like a sick dog. I was in a hotel near the house I grew up in. I was in a cafe that happened to be the lunch court of my elementary school. Various friends from my past were walking up and talking to me.

In the middle of this scene walks Layne Staley. He looked much like he did the first time I met him. Shoulder length hair, clean shaved. Clear eyed and looking about 20 years old. I was so happy. Confused a little, but in a dream like this, I just wanted to accept the idea that there was some mistake and he was alive and well. He seemed happy and said was working on some new music project.

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I woke up not long after that with the feeling that I had really just talked to him and he was somewhere doing just fine.
My next thought was one that has plagued me for years. Sitting in Kelly Curtis’ living room with about 30 people, all sobbing. We had just come from Andy Wood’s extra weird funeral-wake thing at the Paramount Theatre. It had these new age overtones that didn’t fit Andy’s life at all. There was an amazing film of Andy with Mother Love Bone band mates. All of Andy’s friends and family were there, mixed with a bunch of fans who I didn’t like but knew Andy would have loved. The fans went home. His friends went to Kelly’s.
We were crammed in a smallish living room with people sitting on every available surface. Couch arms, end tables, the floor. I was leaning on the back of one of the couches that face away from the rest of the room and toward the front door. I remember Andy’s girlfriend looking at everyone and saying “This is just like La Bamba” then suddenly I heard slapping footsteps growing louder and louder as they reached the front door and Layne flew in, completely breaking down and crying so deeply that he looked truly frightened and lost. Very child like. He looked up at everyone at once and I had this sudden urge to run over and grab him and give him a big hug and tell him everything was going to be OK. Kelly has always had a way of making everyone feel like everything will turn out great. That the world isn’t ending. That’s why we were at his place. I wanted to be that person for Layne, maybe just because he needed it so bad. I wasn’t. I didn’t get up in front of the room and offer that and I still regret it. No one else did either. I don’t know why.
Years later, at Layne’s funeral, I was angry. I kept hearing the “twice as bright, half as long” speech and the “he was just too special for this world” nonsense that I had heard at so many other funerals for so many other friends that were so young and talented. I’m not sure why I was that angry. Angry at Layne? Angry at all my other friends for leaving me? Angry at the people running around in circles saying “I knew him best” or “I was the only one he really trusted”, angry at all of them for squandering what I thought of as brilliant futures that would make the world feel to me like a place worth living? Or maybe I was just mad at myself because he was dead, and one time I had a chance to pick him up, dust him off and let him know that there was a person who cared about how much pain he was in and I didn’t do it.
If I ever run into him in a dream again, I hope I remember to apologise.
Night all. Sweet dreams.”

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‘Right Turn’ from Sap by Alice in Chains: Chris and Layne singing together

Giveaway!

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Queen, Jewel, Mistress is a collection of poems that journeys from Anglo-Saxon times to the present day. Every famous queen and many forgotten ones get a moment to speak with the reader. In the back of the book is a brief history of all the queens. To win an illustrated copy of my book just comment on this post and share with your history loving friends.

The queens in the sketches are Anne Boleyn and Ælfthryth, wife of King Edgar. Plus, a songbird for Eleanor of Provence…you will have to read the poem to know why!

I will choose a winner on 30th April. Good luck!

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NaPoWriMo

Pressure. To write a poem every day for a whole month. Will it force me to focus and help my current period of writer’s block? Will the daily deadline just create an accumulation of mini failures as I don’t hit my target? Will it be fun?

I did it a few years back, using Carrie Etter’s prompts, and got a good number of drafts that became published poems. Jo Bell’s 52 project was also very useful. However, this year I am feeling quite flat and uninspired, even with prompts.

I have written a couple so far and it’s day 10 so I am way behind. Instead of trying to force something, I have been writing observations in careful detail. Describing people, conversations, scenes. It’s taken the pressure off and it is fun again. Like sketching instead of painting the final portrait in oils.

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We grip our hearts and cannot entertain book, thought, or each other.

Wind

This house has been far out at sea all night,
The woods crashing through darkness, the booming hills,
Winds stampeding the fields under the window
Floundering black astride and blinding wet

Till day rose; then under an orange sky
The hills had new places, and wind wielded
Blade-light, luminous black and emerald,
Flexing like the lens of a mad eye.

At noon I scaled along the house-side as far as
The coal-house door. Once I looked up –
Through the brunt wind that dented the balls of my eyes
The tent of the hills drummed and strained its guyrope,

The fields quivering, the skyline a grimace,
At any second to bang and vanish with a flap:
The wind flung a magpie away and a black-
Back gull bent like an iron bar slowly. The house

Rang like some fine green goblet in the note
That any second would shatter it. Now deep
In chairs, in front of the great fire, we grip
Our hearts and cannot entertain book, thought,

Or each other. We watch the fire blazing,
And feel the roots of the house move, but sit on,
Seeing the window tremble to come in,
Hearing the stones cry out under the horizons.

Ted Hughes

wind

 

Snow White and Rose Red

‘THERE was once a poor widow who lived in a lonely cottage. In front of the cottage was a garden wherein stood two rose-trees, one of which bore white and the other red roses. She had two children who were like the two rose-trees, and one was called Snow-white and the other Rose-red. They were as good and happy, as busy and cheerful, as ever two children in the world were, only Snow-white was more quiet and gentle than Rose-red. Rose-red liked better to run about in the meadows and fields seeking flowers and catching butterflies; but Snow-white sat at home with her mother, and helped her with her house-work, or read to her when there was nothing to do.’

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Illustrator: Arthur Rackham  1867 –  1939

‘Then they knew his voice and waited, and when he came up to them suddenly his bearskin fell off, and he stood there a handsome man.’

 

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Illustrator: Gordon Laite (1925-1978)

 

Tree on the Tump

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The motorway is flowing and clear,

not long now, heart lifting at the sign

that announces the change of county,

crossing the invisible boundary line.

 

Into the ‘Shire’; the subtle skyline,

the variation between trees and church spires

both reaching for the hugeness of the blue,

the smell of rape fields and burning tyres.

 

Speeding towards the Malvern Hills humped

across the landscape like a slumbering vast

dragon, and the Tump at Whittington

rising to meet them: the enigma of the past.

 

Ancient sediment from beneath a vanished sea

or was Crookbarrow Hill a burial mound?

Man made determination to see it ascend:

barrow bones sunk deep into the ground.

 

How many have guided their path to the city

from the South by this perfect little knoll,

or stood upon the summit viewing the battle

between Roundhead and Cavalier, poor souls,

 

lost to the void, only the hill remains

and the one tree perched on the top.

I smile at the sight of it, flex tired fingers;

soon be home now, soon I can stop.