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Bugs and Roosevelt
for Jane Kilroy and Chuck Jones
Dreamed 1982/5/2 by Chris Wayan
Find a phone message from my ex-girlfriend Kay--the first contact in years. She's in Mississippi. In a state mental hospital! She's been in for sixty days so far. Has friends there. Our son, adopted four years ago by her brother's family, is five now, talks, can be phoned. She left the number. Wants to write me. Doesn't seem to want rescue, just contact.
I feel torn. Scared to call back. Fear her--not her temper, though that's formidable--fear she'll scent sympathy, come out here, latch onto me and use me for support... again. Nearly killed me last time. Yet I'm lonely, horny, bored--stuck in mere survival. I long for life. But not with her.
Chinese dinner at The Seven Seas with my friend Tom. He knows I like dreams, so he tells me a strange one: "All my relatives were cartoon animals. One was a penguin, one was Bullwinkle the Moose..."
I dream Jane, my sister's friend,
has been my love for long.
Short, rosy, kind, so calm--
unlike Kay, my so fero-
cious ex. I'm happier. Athough
our new jobs are uneasily odd:
we both work in a stylish mod-
eling agency run by a seer,
Her tower's a spy agency too.
Agency, agents. Slightly confu-
sing. But at last, the Cold War
strips on down to hot and bare.
From a nearby pine-dark peak
a lone mortar pounds at our
tower all day--chewing rebar
concrete to grit. Models flee.
Blind war gnaws our agency
down into night.
2: THE MORTAR
I slip up slopes of hissing pine
to sabotage that mortar if I can.
Find no guards--not one man--
just a duct-taped wired device,
a hollow-air torus of coil.
That's no gun! A cyclotron?
But crude as a movie
The gunner floats in free-fall
in the doughnut hole, awhirl
faster, faster--tornado cloud!
His twister gropes the slopes,
arcs across valley to agency.
Wham! The man's both gunner
Meet the mad maker of this
rare device: a live cartoon
as tall as me. Bugs Bunny!
Carrot, cunning. Daffy Duck
walks by. Bugs croons a con:
"Couldja stand over there in that
doughnut hole for juuust a sec?"
Slaps the breaker with a laugh.
3: PUNISHMENT AND CRIME
The black duck whirls and blurs,
a churning funnel of quack,
lisps "You SFLEAZY rabbith!"
A cyclone of furious black
stretches a tentacle vine
round the bunny, drags Bugs
into the vortex he designed
and triggered himself.
Whoosh! They fly off fused.
Funny. Inside, it don't seem
tornadish, but a flying saucer--
well, ring. Still a doughnut! But so
tight for two. Not three, two. Oh,
I'm here, no mere viewer, but I'm
--oh, no. I'm Bugs Bunny! I
planned the crime.
4: WAR AND PEACE
Below us mortar rounds bass-drum:
what an advertising boom!
Who started this war? Wasn't me--
I'm just a crazy bunny who loves
inventing! Why should I shell
my own girlfriend, plus a burrow
(well bureau) of hot fashion babes?
No carrots in that for me! My prank's
outgrown fun. A war? No thanks!
To quit, I gotta come clean.
(If I can. I'm Bugs! My instinct says
"G'waaaan! Be mean.")
It takes a while to placate Daff
(ruffled feathers) till he'll even half-
believe a sociopath like me'd
ever lay off my trickster game
just because we're in the same
twister. But at last he merely sulks;
hears me out. "Look, Daff, I got
a plan to stop this stupid shoot-
in' war right at the root."
5: TIME BRANCHES
I pilot our black vortex back
into the past, to the soil of war.
"Is it older than Hitler's Reich?
In the Depression, after, before?"
"Whadda ya mean," says Daffy,
"Affter the Depfression?
Stfill ain't over, you know that!"
"I know whaaaat?"
We argue confusedly. Conclude
at last that we grew up in two
forking garden-paths of time!
Daffy's never even heard
of "Franklin Delano Roosevelt"
--an over-florid name, absurd--
instead he knows a solid line
of leather-brained Republicans
flintily presiding o'er
Depression past its time. It's clung
like untreated clap, discharging on
the workers of America since
I set course for '40, rather than
my '29 crash, or his '31. Why?
Dunno--I'm Bugs! But I hit pay
dirt, and right away:
6: GYPSY FORETELLING
Below us, quilting a grassy hill,
a throng waves banners: "FDR!"
A campaign speech! He's here!
But heckled. Barging in at far
left is a gypsy wagon full of young
protestors, whose signs foretell
just what'll happen if Roosevelt
fails to enact the New Deal. Predict
debacle in detail!
Must be time-gypsies--like me, from
a timebranch unDepressed. They chant:
"Confront what you've finessed, or your
Great Depression'll stretch and drone
on and on!" As Daffy's tragic fork
has apparently gone.
Swing low the doughnut, till they duck.
Land by Franklin, about to speak. And we
better ensure he earns his famous buck.
A hand-crank phone beside me bells
silver, shy. I pick up. A drawl: "Hello?
Jawje Washin'ton Cahvuh heah. Delano
theah? Ah mus' speak t' him." But will
he hear? Or dismiss an old black Ag
researcher as obscure?
7: CRANK CALLS
I think I see how this branch erred,
deferred the needed Depression-cure.
Overslept! America requires
regular naps: let sanity lapse
to red dusk and Republican night,
as folk digest reform--though all
Federal law will stall.
This branch's Roosevelt, like all,
charms--but courtesy silver-spooned
won't help this Democrat confront
rude truths. It's radical dawn!
Can he duel the rich? Got the balls?
Will he hear wake-up calls from
gypsies, blacks, by antique phone?
Literal crank calls!
I phone Jane, but I spook her: my
voice sounds wrong. Crank call too! So
I urge "Come talk in person!" Though
how will she take to Rabbit Me,
now that I'm just a big cartoon?
Oh, and mad. Bugs has a bad
rep. A trickster known.
8: JANE AGAIN
Blue-green dusk when Jane arrives.
My dad comes too. As Roosevelt
starts his Fireside Talk, we sit
sofa'd round the recommended Fire.
Cozy. Jane beside me's hot enough
to peel her flowery blouse right off.
Snuggles up to me. Bare breasts
caress my cartoon fur. I guess
she likes rabbitude. (I go all night
now--tail short, they say, love long).
Jane shines sleek in firelight.
Bliss. Just one potential wrong,
one doubtful errrk.
Can Roosevelt face down the Right,
or must we organize the fight
to pull us back to a saner fork?
Soon enough, by fireglow,
this Franklin Delano will show
if leaders work.
NOTES THE NEXT DAY
- Jane: liked her, flirted with her, but haven't seen in years! Must be symbolic not literal. I think she means calm, taking it easy--in contrast to my ex-girlfriend Kay, brilliant but angry
- Modeling-agency jobs: more contrast with Kay, whose feminist vision loathed the whole beauty/glamor thing
- Agency: a pun? our "agency", our ability to act?
- Powerful witch steers modeling- AND spy-agency: hints that surface beauty, even trendiness, can hide real magic and strength.
- Cyclotron: a doughnut-shaped particle accelerator causing rare events. Like swallowing sociopathic bunnies.
- Time machine: probably the Tardis on "Dr Who", which I saw just before the dream
- Mad scientist's invention: in two TV movies I saw too:
- In A Bonus for Dr Hardwick the powers that be try to suppress a health/longevity drug that may trigger social revolution
- In Wet Blanket a field damps nuclear chain reactions just enough to defuse every bomb on Earth
- Become Bugs Bunny: my dream just had to top Tom's dream of merely meeting cartoon critters, now didn't it?
- Bugs manipulates Daffy Duck's spacetime: PREDICTIVE! The night after this dream, I saw a Chuck Jones cartoon on TV: "Duck Amuck". Bugs and Daffy, just as in my dream. Usually, Daffy's own schemes come round to jab his own ass, but not today; THIS time, the cartoon universe itself tortures him! Why? The camera pulls back. Chuck Jones isn't drawing Daffy today; Bugs is. He grins and says to us "Ain't I a stinker?"
- Hand-crank phone, puns on "crank calls": my dream knows I'll be skeptical that it's predictive, and creates this wry pun: ESP-as-intrusive-wacko.
- Squeamish Roosevelt: I may be avoiding ugly, necessary confrontations--and this can trap me in depression!
- George Washington Carver's message: Kay's call! But the dream hints I don't have to learn change from Kay; there were the gypsies. And Jane--a girlfriend who's NOT mad (in either sense) like Kay. There was even me-the-time-traveling-bunny-with-news---that is, my own predictive dreams. They too could guide me.
- ACTION: try radical changes in my life. Be confrontational. Or else get trapped in perpetual depression!
- Fighting the rich will get ugly: PREDICTIVE too! Soon after the dream, a savings and loan officer embezzled all my savings. 1982-85, my life was all lawyers and lawsuits. Torture for me. But I did it, and got enough of my savings back to build a future on.
- My dad sits calmly as Jane and I pet by the fire: PSYCHIC? When I read "Bugs" to my sister Miriel (2015), she laughed and told me how her friend Jane was lost to her: at a sleepover (1972), Miriel brought booze and Jane brought boys; Jane's parents found out and blamed Miriel, forbade all contact. My dad totally absolved Jane too--blamed Miriel. All hushed up--to me, Jane just vanished (1970s). Yet in my dream (1982), Dad calmly watches by the fire as Jane & I make out--he acts blind to sex in front of him! The same denial about Jane's sexuality that he really had (1972). Did I subliminally overhear the hushed-up story (1972) and abruptly dredge it up a decade later? Or was it further ESP? However my dream knew, my conscious was clueless--Miriel's story (2015) was a total shock.
- Did I change, as the protestors urged? America didn't. But I did. After the dream, I chose dream-art as my life-path--poetry, stories, painting, music. Dreams urged me "Give up hoping for a normal career--you can't stand the rat race. Save up and invest in ethical funds." I did and it worked--I retired at 36, escaped wage slavery. Health, love? Moved from suburbs to big city, got a therapist and slowly worked through the abuse-scars and started in on the chronic illness that kept me single. Over a decade of hard work--as it took FDR in the thirties.
- News from the future: the dream is pointing out it's predictive! I've begun a list of such self-flagging dreams: dreams telling you you're dreaming so you go lucid, dreams talking of telepathy that turn out to BE telepathic, dreams mentioning prediction that turn out to be predictive, etc. Such dreams imply dreaming is neither a blind jungle needing a Freud, nor a brain just sorting memories or takin' out the trash, but (at its best) a transcendent state trying hard to send you useful news. Not its fault if the lessons are inherently hard... and we the listeners reluctant.
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I'm Just Not Myself Today!:
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More cartoon dreams: Donald Duck as divine herald, in
The Circus Humans' Desertion;
Cubist Charlie Brown;
Little Nemo's Bed - a series of cartoon dreams:
Mystic Tales of Popeye
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