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Dragon-Jewel

Dreamed 2013/6/27 by Chris Wayan

THAT DAY

My sister Althea calls. Just moved to the Hudson Valley, where she's met a lot of Lyme cases. Their symptoms resemble mine--and hers, which have worsened. "I'm starting to believe you--we both may have Lyme. I need to get tested."

I bike to BART and ride to downtown Oakland. Bike around Lake Merritt and up the hill (hot!) to my friend Catshall's home. Her broken leg's healing--she walks and drives now. I brought her vitamin D. She lost the last bottle, but she swears to use this one. "I don't want another fracture. Ever."

We swap poetry critiques. I read her Airacuda and Etna-Shasta, or, Groom your Own Feathers. Catshall shows me her collage-poems--magazine clippings arranged into poems--funny but often eerie poems. My faves have flowing layouts, a colored wash tinting the words, textured backgrounds not flat, and spot illustrations. I urge her "Consider a book."

Lunch at Champa Garden. Yum! Laotian food is the best. Oh, those herbs.

I bike down to Lake Merritt past a gaggle of giggling teens in shorts. Hot in both senses! Lug the bike downstairs to the dungeons of BART. A train just arrived. Hurry on. Oops, wrong way! Haste makes lost. I get off in Fruitvale (no fruit or vales) just as a train home leaves. Stuck in suburbia! Long wait till the next train back to the City. Ride by a blonde girl who reminds me of my childhood playmate Ariane Lee; same open, animal aura. So cute. But I feel shy. Across the car's a girl with impossibly long caramel legs... and lowered eyes, texting away, all thumbs. Oh well. Bike home from Glen Park--tired, dehydrated, sad that I can't or won't flirt.

But poems got honed.

THAT NIGHT

Palmyra is my home. Proud city-state:
Reefs of dome, palm, well and minaret
Accreting, ringed around a great
Oasis in adobe shimmerplain.

The quiet girl upstairs slipped out of town.
Months now without word, return
Or rent checks! Reluctantly at last
Our landlord put her penthouse flat
Back on the market. Lovely view
Of our slum, and that delightful coo-
King reek from downstairs: the Smoked
Goat Garlic Barbecue.

A friend and I move in. We soon
Uncover her trousseau: the hoard
Underneath a loose floorboard
By the silver shoes and green sheath
Gown in her closet. Scarce hid: just tread.
Booms like a drum. That's what a slum-
Lord gets for being absentee!

She was a closet dragon, then. Some can
Pass for mammal, slip on skin
(That slinkiest dress), bank the fire at need.
I never guessed--saw just one more chain
Smoking cafe sorceress.

Finger through our find. One jewel's
A lens for mind! A clear pecan of fire
Whose thaumaturgic charge outlooms
All the rest amassed. Wielded well,
It could tumble our turbaned elite--
Wizards, rich, Caliph. So

We hide this Arkenstone, and slow-
Ly fence the lesser trove. Old gold,
Mere lapis, sapphire, jade. Oh
Let the rubies go.

Improve our block--hire locals, dig a clean
Well, raise a clinic and school. Why try
To nouveau-riche it, mid the hissing old?
Lift our own poor neighbors! Fortune shared
Fosters might to fight elite. For local loyalty
Beats a shaky put-on royalty.

The gem obeys a coded spectrum of command.
No manual. I can't control. But among
Palmyra's feudal, predatory grand,
Who can I consult?

And time runs out. As lesser gems
Trickle up the souks--black market, gray--
Our civic powers (secular & mage) awake.
Paid vultures spiral in

Until I'm pinned. Or am I? Slip with gem
Down a secret stair. Emerge from the nar-
Row door we all thought hammered shut
By the Goat's back kitchen-archway. But
From within, it yawns at finger-touch.
Dragon-girl liked a bolthole! Or two--
Still unspelunked, a loose panel upstairs.
A spare door to... where?

I don't step out yet--hide again
As a cook waltzes humming to the sink:
The lovely Ariane Lee. I long to trust,
But keep this entry hidden: else our flat
Becomes a baby bird a-beg
For burglar worm. And now they swarm!
What leads out leads in.

Gem pocketed, I slink the slum. Crave advice
From my old judo master. His forte's disguise:
"The wisest warrior you never even see!
Best not to fight at all." The Powers that Be
Will seek an upstart wizard-wannabe
Scurrying seaward on a souped-up spell
For hasty flight: some tacky magic rug
Or lurid jinni's cloud (they're overfond of dye).
Instead I dress as a delivery guy
and pedal a slow tricyle up the street
Snaking lazily up Warehouse Tel.

A gaggle of jinn enslaved flap overhead.
A scarlet carpet flock squawks;
Vizier and palace guard. Gulp hard
But patiently proceed. Ignore my dread;
Slow pedal tread.

Atop the hill I pause. Exchange my wheels
for rollers; snake-shed my track! Then peel
Off my coat, roll a slow block, and don
Brown coat of that rival delivery firm.
Then waddle on

Slackerly o'er the Tel. Coast down the far
Slope syrup-slow, for my crude rollers drag
More than proper wheels. And crap suspension
Adds a slo-mo nightmare's dramatic tension.
But I reach my goal!

For at the far hill-foot, just beyond Pal-
Myra's Warehouse Gate (laxest in the wall)
I meet my teacher in an alley near the Hoo-
Ver Institute and Stanford Business School.
I know escape's a mere initiatory step
Toward magery's dim height, and yet...

Whether I ever master the Gem,
          I can be proud.
With all Palmyra's Powers a-hound
          This fox got out.

Sketch of a dream by Wayan: Syrian woman smoking. Not smoking a cigarette. Just smoking.
Sketch of a dream by Wayan: pale glowing gem.
Sketch of a dream by Wayan: delivery man on pedicab.
Sketch of a dream by Wayan: genie emerges from purple cloud.
Sketch of a dream by Wayan: turbaned man on magic carpet.

AFTERDREAM


Later, in a webcast interview, I decide
I must break oath to my sister, for
Early in the dragon-jewel affair I swore
Ever to hide one facet of the tale. But now,
To protect some kittens, I must speak out.
I text Althea "You have one minute to free
Me from my word. Without your yea, I'll break."
Her link is live but silent. So I speak
Up to save new life... and there I wake.

Sketch of a dream by Wayan: Syrian woman smoking. Not smoking a cigarette. Just smoking.

NOTES IN THE MORNING


Sketch of a dream by Wayan: turbaned man on magic carpet.


LISTS AND LINKS: shapeshifters - dragons - house and home - the closet - treasure - crystals and gems - magic and mages - money - inheritance and heritage - privacy - power - self-defense - perseverance - bikes - dropouts and solitude - mentors - political dreams - predictive dreams - ESP in general - Palmyra Oasis - Wayan stays low again: Don't Want Him To Soar - Rachel skulks too: My Mother's Closet - a second dragon's gift: Regeana's Dragon - Catshall dreams of a different Jackpot - dreams of Althea

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