The notion of one powerful dream dying and another rising amidst its ashes was new to me until the life and energy of a dream that for years had empowered my creative endeavors came to an end. I was stunned because while I had accepted the reality of dreamers dying, I had never even considered the possibility that a dream itself could die. After all, it had not collapsed like a physical human body or dried up like an abused rose. It had simply gone from a recognized state of existence to an unrecognized non-existence and left me baffled in the wake of a sudden terror-filled inertia.
I accepted that the end of the dream must in some ways mean the end of me and prepared myself for whatever exactly that might mean. But although dreams are always specific to individuals they are not always respecters of persons and I found myself wrestling for a while with interpretations of a dream-informed life that was still very much in progress.
Then something which previously had eluded me became suddenly apparent: the death of a dream can in fact serve as the vehicle that endows it with new form, with reinvigorated substance, a fresh flow of ideas, and splendidly revitalized color. In short, the power of a certain kind of dream is such that death need not indicate finality at all but rather signify a metaphysical and metaphorical leap forward.
Had I not been so panicked by the notion of my beloved life-enhancing dream coming to an end, I would have realized sooner that, from the very beginning, a major part of its pattern had always been change and adaptability. It had in fact started out as a manifestation of literary visions entitled Songs of the Angelic Gaze, so named because in a season of visions of angels (during the summer of 2006) I found myself transcribing what I saw into short and long chains of poetry. At one point there came an image in which I stood with my father looking at a bridge teeming with angels––this sighting produced two editions of a book called The Bridge of Silver Wings. The second edition included works on ancestors, the newly-elected President of the United States Barack Obama, and a new suite of angel-inspired stanzas. Just as this second edition was titled The Bridge of Silver Wings 2009, I was fully prepared to produce a 2010 edition when the noted evolution occurred and the book now titled The River of Winged Dreams was born.
Four major poem additions to The River of Winged Dreams set it apart from its predecessors: “Sounds Scribbled Mixed-Media Platinum”; “Notes for an Elegy in the Key of Michael (I)”; “Notes for an Elegy in the Key of Michael (II)”; and the title poem. Each of these stands out in its own right and light. “Sounds Scribbled Mixed-Media Platinum” was written during a sound painting performance, featuring Savannah’s Creative Force Artist Collective and jazzman saxophonist Jody Espina, at the Jepson Center for the Arts. My purpose for attending the event was to write a news article about it but as the painters and sculptors created their extraordinary works, while Espina and his ensemble exploded jazz throughout the atrium of the Jepson Center, my pen insisted on dancing to their creative beat and the poem wrote itself in the space intended for my notes.
The two “Elegies in the Key of Michael” are among the most surprising additions to the book, first because of the unexpected death of the great Michael Jackson in June 2009, and because of the haiku-influenced form assumed by the elegies. The title poem arrived to announce the possibility I had failed to acknowledge: that built within the conclusion of a certain kind of dream were the beginnings of another capable of simultaneously redefining and extending the previous dream. It could even be that the whole purpose of the construction of The Bridge of Silver Wings was to provide a path leading to The River of Winged Dreams, or to serve as a resting place until the river’s deeper and truer nature revealed itself.
Once that deeper more true nature became clear, I had to smile at the perfect sense it made. A river is nearly the ultimate symbol for the very essence of change itself. It flows unceasing from one point of being to another, yet continuously occupying the same bed or pathway, and accommodating life’s endings with the same musical grace with which it accommodates life’s beginnings, along with all the muted and explosive moments that surface between the two extremes. The gift of this awareness did two wonderful things: the first was that it confirmed my growing conviction about the power of a given dream. The second was that it extended, magnified, and clarified those Songs of the Angelic Gaze that first enchanted readers, listeners, and this author with the bold brilliance of their strength and the cool shimmer of their unsettling humility.