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Poetic Dreamers (Half Awake, Half Asleep)

“Lucid dreaming”—a dream state where one is aware that one is dreaming. Person might try to “influence” the “outcome” of such dreaming, scenarios fashioned into desired results by dreamer.

Person might “speak” to entity that appears in dream, “You’re not real—you don’t exist.” Entity’s presence meanwhile has curious ability to persist in its own right.  Paradoxically, entity has simply “appeared” in the dream as from out of nowhere. So much for “lucidity!” So much for “control” over outcomes!

A more complex form of lucid dreaming: one “awakes” from a dream onto another sub-“reality.” At this point in “wakefulness,” dreamer experiences a brief moment of believing that it has “finally” awakened from dreaming altogether. The actual bedroom where one is sleeping—as “out of nowhere”—appears with no distortion, no phantasmagoric dressing of any kind. Dreamer says to self: “That was weird, what a journey that was! But now, I’m back.

The “I’m back” sensation at first calms, reassures. But soon, dreamer notices that nothing else “happens” in the familiar place, the only thing that “happens” is an endless pinging of “I’m back.”

A suspicion begins to flicker like an electrical arc flash over a faulty selenium suppressor switch; then an infinitesimally short moment of silence in utter darkness; soon a fireball of doubt, disorientation, confusion, and anxiety—a paralysis engulfs you. You are burning up in “familiar settings.”

This violent torrent of familiarity is tearing up all elements of reality from their placements and propelling them—all broken, all crushed—to nowhere. It “ends” at “awakening.” But this is yet another collapse onto yet another sub-“reality,” a reality with its own “back at last” moment.

Poets “abroad” often ask what is it’s like to live within the North American Nationalistic surround? It is like being stuck in a lucid dream, one that is violently punctuated by all the stock, chauvinistic jingoisms of solution peddlers:

“Awake!” “Erwach!” “Despierten!” “Éveiller!”


“I don’t exist.”

Could poets calmly and coolly utter that before being told they do “exist?”

And what might be the opposite of a lucid dream? What might be the reverse direction—a wholly divergent pattern-of-movement away from an ever-repeating “I’m-back-ness?”

“I’m not coming back.”

“I was never there.”

Both stances might be Sodium Pentothal injected into the Hippocampus of Proto-Fascist Timescapes.

Both begin with “I don’t exist” as the actual place of taking a stand.

Is this the elemental moment of becoming movement itself, the moment that eludes becoming a static figure in someone else’s endless dream?


Abstention / Non-Alignment with Aesthetic Formations is not a naïve embrace of civic cultural nullity; it is not an apologia for ignorance of political power’s way of squiggling things-into-being.

Abstention / Non-Alignment Aesthetic Formations can signal a dedication to wandering among symbolic accidents, precisely in order to “wake up” without an all-external command system prompting it.

“Don’t wake me up just yet, I’m boxing against this crazy-ass dream!”


Rightist Reactivity = “lucidity,” obsession with control and “reality”

Centrist Paraplegia  = “somnolence,” inability to be ok with restful dreaming

Oppositionalist Revolutionary Potential = active, non-lucid dreaming, repeated revisiting of the symbolic order of things: comprehension + projection

Are global (capitalist-hegemonic) poetics scripted to act like hypnotic pendulums swinging from “lucidity” to “somnolence,” something that results in an actual disturbance of restful dreaming?

Is lucidity itself a measure of the single self’s actual power?

Is somnolence a junky-like scavenging for “clues” to already “found” “realities?”

Need poets dragoon themselves into rearranging the room’s contents “as it is?”

Might non-institutional, low-bureaucratic “dreaming” (the word of course has been drummed out of any practical use already) relieve people from an endless night of “new” (collapsing) “realities?”

After such drummed-out-dreaming, might poets suddenly and without fanfare awaken to a non-lucid state?

Will the nose, the eyes, the mouth, the hands, gain the ability to ride the swiftness of new desires freshly sensed, explored, plumbed, and soon, elevated to story?


See also Toscano’s recent poem “May Be!” [written during Occupy, Fall 2012] at the Poetry Society of America site. Visit his updated author page at EPC.


 Sobre Rodrigo Toscano

Rodrigo Toscano’s newest book is Deck of Deeds (Counterpath Press 2012). His previous book, Collapsible Poetics Theaterwas a 2007 National Poetry Series Selection. He was the recipient of a 2005 New York State Fellowship in Poetry. His poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies, including Against Expression, Diasporic Avant Gardes, andPoetic Voices Without Borders, and Best American Poetry. Toscano’s Spanish language poetry appears in the anthology, Malditos Latinos, Malditos Sudacas. His plays have been performed at the Disney Redcat Theater and Ontological-Hysteric Poet’s Theater Festival. His radio pieces have aired on WPIX FM, KAOS Public Radio, WNYU, and PS.1 Radio. His poetry has been translated into French, Dutch, Italian, German, Portuguese, Norwegian and Catalan. Toscano works for the Labor Institute in conjunction the United Steelworkers and the National Institute for Environmental Health Science. He works out of a laptop, tethered to a Droid, residing in airports, occupying poetics in midflight.