21 November 2009

Running Lights

Christ, my head hurts. Sleep or liquor I can’t tell.

I heard your voice, or laugh, cupped by the waves and tossed into my ears. That dream again, waking up on the beach, cold and slick with dew. I’m never sure if I had been drinking. It’s the only reason I can think of these days, that I would fall asleep on the beach. Then again, I’m never sure if I am really waking up or just dreaming I’m waking up. I sit up abruptly. The gray smear of the horizon congeals into focus. My heart pounds in the usual manner as I struggle for balance. I think the sun is coming up, or maybe just behind a drapery of fog and mist. The salt-metal tang of the ocean fills my lungs.

The remnants of the dream I was having, it was a party I think, or were we just sitting in your room listening to Jethro Tull, or Black Sabbath? Albums. I had Aqualung in my hands and you were pretending to play the flute. We always thought if funny to hear a flute in a rock band.

Funny but cool.

I laugh weakly at the memory, then wince. I am clutching at the cold sand so hard the little fragments of shell and rock dig into my palms. It grounds me and the dream wisps vanish, blown out on the water by an offshore breeze. On the horizon something moves, small pale spheres seeming to float over the mercury sea. They fade in an out as I blink slow as an iguana in a blizzard.

The beach is empty, not even a gull to keep me company. The sand is pristine in its wind-driven undulations. If the feet of others had touched it, the wind and waves must have blotted out the prints long before I woke. The notion makes me sad, that I am alone. The tightness in my throat gets stuck while my muscles work furiously to keep it from erupting in a full-on sob. All I hear is the hiss and grumble of the waves with the grass on the dunes in counterpoint. I shake my head and make to stand.

Dizziness nearly takes me to my knees. The world swirling in my head while I flap my arms for balance. I surf a curl of nausea, chest and belly heaving in a struggle for dominance over the contents of my aching stomach. Peristalsis continues to work in the right direction and breakfast or dinner or who knows what I last ate stays put. My head bobbles in the wind and the lights on the horizon flare a little brighter, a little closer.

Or so I thought. It was then that I heard your voice again, I swear to god it sounded like it was coming from across the water and I rubbed my eyes and sonofabitch if those lights didn’t get brighter, turning red and green and sitting on top of the masts or poles or something and there it was the boat and it was heading for the shore and jesus Christ on a pogo stick there you were and you were waving and I yelled out your name and waved back grinning like a fool and my heart swelled up and I wanted to come welcome you back home so I started running and running hard right for the boat because goddamnit it was coming back to the dock they were throwing out the ropes and it must have been a good trip because you held up this big mother of a tuna fish and I smiled because you were back and I kept running to the boat and then you set the fish on deck and started shaking your head with that melancholy smile and the ropes were drawn back in and I said no, no, don’t leave let me get on board I want to come fish with you like we did when we were kids and please just one more time and you faintly called out “No, man, not now, I just wanted to let you know I’m okay and the fishing is excellent...” and then you waved and I came to a crashing halt falling on my knees and sobbing as the boat receded out into the sea.

It was then I came to and found myself on that sandbar, again. Soaking wet in water up to my waist with the salt of my tears mingling with the salt of the ocean. I screamed again, watching those lights hovering so far away on the horizon. The wind swallowed up my puny mewlings, the lights disappeared over the rim of the world. Swimming back to shore, I swore I heard you say “When its time, my brother, when its time.” The beach is no proper bed, but I lay down in the grit, my head cradled on seaweed, and dreamed of our youth.


  1. I hope he was talking to you in your dream. I like it when people come back that way. Very comforting, in a wild way.

  2. A wonderful terrible dream. Or a terrible wonderful dream. I can't decide which.

  3. Very moving. I'm sure he's watching.


  4. Dude, your stuff just gets better and better.

  5. how do you make a smilie that is sobbing her eyes out??

  6. I've had a version of this same dream .....
    Comforting and disconcerting at the same time.
    Beautifully written - as always.

  7. You've got that 'beat generation' thing going on here Irish...and I love that!

  8. I have some similar dreams of the dead--most are in large houses with many rooms and I am wandering through them, lost, and then see family that have moved on. I know the meaning I think.

  9. Oh. This leaves me hollow...


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...