Tag Archives: dreams

Chicago on the Road to Freedom

a terza rima sonnet

By Thomas Davis

Cacophony, noise, horses, people, smells,
A raging restlessness and energy
Unbounded from the places spirit dwells,
Infected them and made them want to flee
Their fleeing even as Chicago seethed
And made them wonder if their slavery
Was more than whips and white men wreathed
In arrogance, but something in their souls,
Their consciousness, the very air they breathed
That filled their lives with loss and empty holes
Where dreams should live and let life soar in skies
Removed from fear and all the deadly shoals
That, hidden, suddenly materialize
And snatch away a slave’s most longed-for prize.

Note: This continues the sonnet sequence I am writing. The sonnets, all of them different kind of sonnets, head each chapter in a novel that is giving me endless trouble. In the novel a large group of slaves from different plantations, led by a fiery Preacher, escape southern Missouri and head north toward Washington Island in Wisconsin. At this point in their escape they have reached Chicago.


Filed under poems, Poetry, Thomas Davis

In the Unsettled Homeland of Dreams

The Preacher sat upon a rocky hill
Above a cave where waters from the lake
Crashed angrily above the soaring shrill
Of gulls excited by a splashing wake
Of fish caught by the afternoon’s harsh light
Flashed back into the early Fall’s blue sky.

He sat upon the hill, his second sight
Unmoored and wild, and listened as the lie
He’d told himself when struggling to find
The island where his people could be free
Wrapped round reality, the awful bind
Of white men, dark men in the company
Of humankind, their kind, the hunger spun
From dreams once dreamed beneath a noonday sun.

Note: The title paraphrases a line from Pablo Neruda. This is the fourth sonnet in the series I am writing about the black community that existed for a short while on Washington Island off the tip of Door County. It was developed during a workshop led by Ralph Murre.


Filed under poems, Poetry, Thomas Davis


by Ethel Mortenson Davis

He was dressed
like a laborer
bending around in the yard
in working clothes.
He whistled tunes
that were classical symphonies.

I thought, how strange
he is dressed —
yet knows these tunes.
He should be dressed
in a beautiful coat like Joseph’s.

I went to the window
looking for him,
still hearing his whistling,
but then realized
I was waking from a dream;

like the Navajo holy woman
chanting under my window
that early morning.

I went to all the windows
to catch a glimpse of her,
but then realized
she was part of my dream.

Who are these people?

I think they are the healers
that repair
the holes in the universe,
the tear,
the rift just outside
my window.


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, Uncategorized

Cherry Orchard

A Miltonian Caudet Sonnet

by Thomas Davis

They crawled out from their canvas tent and stared
At stumps still littered through the opening
Their two man saw had cut into the spring-
Deep twilight made by woods so thick they dared
An axe to fell a wilderness that flared
Across so many miles no bird could wing
Its way to planted orchards blossoming
Into the dream the couple, logging, shared.

So tired she barely kept her head upright,
The woman started up the morning fire.
She sighed to see the stumps that made the field
Look strange inside the early morning light,
An emptiness surrounded by the choir
Of birds in trees where she in silence kneeled.

“The canopy is peeled
Away enough to let us plant the trees,”
He said. “Their blossoms will attract the bees.”

She looked and tried to tease
The cherry trees he saw into her mind,
But all she saw were stumps, work’s endless grind.


Filed under Poetry, Thomas Davis

35. Determination, Doubt, and Dreams of Victory

Inside the cave he’d clawed in mountain rock
Sshruunak’s resentment at the inconvenience
Of living rough outside the dragon lairs
Far from community he’d always known
Kept waking him, the cold intense enough
To make him wish he’d spent more digging time.
He kept on saying that discomfort made
Him miserable right now, but soon the moon
Would be invisible and then the song
Of dragon wings would beat so dreadfully
The earth would tremble from the flames of rage.

The thought of nineteen males, six fierce females
Now following his lead to dragon war
Seemed like a gift more precious than his hearts
Inside the small cave’s dark, a bolstering
That made his plans more promising than he
Had dreamed that they could ever be before
Their force had left the caves to find Sshruunak.
Inside his head he saw his clutch of dragons
Spread out across the skies, their bodies large
Enough to make irrelevant the men
That scurried with their deadly arrows through
The lanes between their small stone cottages.
He felt the power of their thundering
Inside his hearts and felt so potent-wild
He thought that he could burst out from his cave
And wrest the ancient stories from ancestors
And make them live in glory in this time.

But then the image faded as he thought
About the news his new force brought: Of Mmirrimann
And all the elders on the conclave’s stone,
Especially Ssruanne who’d let her mate
Assume her place upon the dais to call
For dragon war, huge dragons battling dragons
So that the dragon race would grow and thrive.
The old ones’ foolishness enraged him, made
Him want to spew his fire into their smug,
Old surety with force enough to make them cringe,
But still, his followers were young and strong,
But could they face the dragons from the caves?
Could victory be carved from dragons first
And then from humans with their puny strength?
What had he done? Created dominance
That would ensure that dragons lived without
The endless threat that humans represented?
Or made a war where dragon claws and flame
Raked only dragon hides and forced a slide
Into extinction Mmirrimann was fond
Of warning all the dragon caves about?

He’d trained the young males that had followed him
In discipline and strategy, but now
His newer followers were here to join
The battle that he’d planned for carefully,
And though he’d lead his forces through the skies,
What would they do when dragons they had known
The moment when they’d left their eggs for light
Confronted them and came at them with flames?

He’d somehow thought the elders would sit back
And let him fight the humans in his war
And cower in the caves, afraid to stop
Him as he moved to rid the world of humans,
But if the dragons that had left the conclave
To join him in the mountains had it right,
His war against the humans was a part
Of what they faced, the other part a war
He had not planned or even contemplated.

The doubts gnawed at his stomach, made him want
To bawl his fear and helpless feelings out
Into the quiet night and make them vanish,

But if he showed his feelings to the others,
He’d heard the hesitancy in the way
The new ones told of elders at the conclave
And felt the cold dismay the males had felt
To feel the possibility of war
Fought with their fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers…

What could he do? he asked himself. What should
He do before he could not stop events from moving
So fast he had no choice but forward movement
Toward a destiny that was not guaranteed
To be the destiny his dreams had formed?

He thrashed inside the cave and cold and moved
His wings–and then had left the cramped, close cave
For air that whistled as he flapped his wings.
Stars shined so bright they rained their silver light
Upon the valley far below his flight.
Great dragon bodies moved uncomfortably
To hear him leave his clawed out earth and soar
Into the crystal darkness of the night.
For hours the newest dragons had clawed earth
To make themselves a cave where they could sleep,
But mountain rock was hard, and days were needed
To make a cave, not hours before night came.

Still, no one followed him into the sky.
One day to train the new ones how to fight
A war with strategy instead of rage,
He thought. Stoormachen and the others who
Had learned the tactics had to take the lead.
The clutch he led would not be quite as fierce
As what he’d dreamed when he had set his rage
Toward the moment when he’d wage a war
Against the hunter who had sent his arrow
To blind his eye and wrap him deep with pain,
But cowering was not the dragon way—
Not even if Ssruuanne and Mirrimmann
Were strong enough to fill the skies with dragons
Opposing him and what his mind had willed.

He drove his wings down, spurted higher, up
Into the thinner air toward the stars.
They’d win, he screamed inside himself. They’d win!
They had no other choice than victory.

To listen to this section of the epic, click on Determination, Doubt, and Dreams of Victory

Note: This is the thirty-fifth section of a long narrative poem, which has grown into The Dragon Epic. Originally inspired by John Keats’ long narrative poem, Lamia, it tells a story set in ancient times when dragons and humans were at peace. Click on the numbers below to reach other sections, or go to the Categories box to the right under The Dragon Epic. Click on Dragonflies, Dragons and Her Mother’s Death to go to the beginning and read forward. Go to Metamorphosis to go to the section previous to this one. To read the next section of the epic, click on Mesmerized Cave Dragons.


Filed under Poetry, The Dragon Epic, Thomas Davis

A Tall, Thin-Necked Giraffe

a children’s poem by Thomas Davis

I saw a thin-necked, brown giraffe
Walk through my tallest, night-long dreams,
Its long legs flowing like the wind,
Its neck as thin as desert streams.

“Say,” I said. “Please, oh tell me, sir.
What are you doing in my dreams?
My dreams are full of dancing stars
And not giraffes brown, thin, and lean.”

The brown giraffe then looked around,
As if it hadn’t really looked,
And then it bolted from my dream
Into the pages of this book.


Filed under Poetry, Thomas Davis

6. The Old One’s Prophetic Dreams

by Thomas Davis

The Old One flew past layer after layer
In dreams so vivid that they seemed to smell
Of human sweat around a blazing fire
Inside the villager’s great meeting hall.
The hunter she had found out in the woods
Was pacing like a spirit bear whose rage
Had left the spirit world and slipped
Inside the human by the fireplace, hands
And gestures punctuating madness, fear.

“The witch’s child has stirred the dragons up!”
The big man roared. “The time for peace is done!”

The Old One twisted, tossed upon her bed
Of earth-warmed stone. The storm outside was raging
With winds so strong they moaned across the peaks
And slammed down slopes into the valley where
The young girl Wei slept quietly in bed.

She’d riled the hunter up, she thought. Infected
By fear she’d thrown at him with fiery breath,
He’d lost his sense of who he was and snarled
In desperation at his memories.

“Ssruann! Ssruann!” Her daughter’s rumbling voice
Cut through the layers of her dream and forced
Her from the village back into her cave.
She opened up her eyes and saw her daughter’s
Bright azure eyes above her in the dark.
The dream still heavy in her mind, she blinked
Before she spoke, then stretched her golden neck
Into the frigid air, her daughter’s eyes
Intense upon her waking, looking sharp
And piercing at her dissipating sleep.

Mmlynn has gotten larger than I am,
She thought, or else, she smiled inside, I’ve shrunk.
“What’s wrong?” she asked, her voice so loud it echoed
Inside the cavern of the stone walled cave.

Her daughter’s eyes kept staring, making
The Old One feel unnerved by youth’s strong passions.
Her daughter looked away and glanced toward
The tunnel dug between the Old One’s outer lair
And caves dug deep into the mountainside.

“Your roaring woke the dragonlings,” she said,
Then paused… “and others in a dozen lairs.”

“I’ve been asleep,” the Old One said. “I’ve roared?”

“You’ve dreamed?” her daughter asked, dread in her voice.
The Old One looked outside into the storm.
“I’ve heard you for a month,” her daughter said.
“Tonight it’s gotten out of claw and tooth.”
She paused, her sense of dread so strong it filled
The air inside the cave. “Prophetic dreams.
You’re having dreams foretelling tragedy.”
She paused, then added quickly, “Everyone
Inside the mountain knows what’s going on.”

The Old One looked into her daughter’s eyes
And tried to find the words she’d have to say.
Prophetic dreams could stir the dragon spirits,
Unsettle life inside the mountain, force
Change, roaring, breathing fire, into the world.
She slowly got up from her bed and felt
The aches of old age deep inside her bones.

“We need to bring the human girl up here,”
She said. “I’m dreaming of the human girl.”

A tiny ball of flame puffed out of Mmlynn.
Shock stunned into her eyes and azure face.
“She’d die up here!” she said, her voice severe.
“No dragon’s ever let a human climb
Within a mile of any outer cave!
The males would murder her before she drew
A single breath inside a single lair!”

The Old One walked toward the opening
To look into the storm that moaned and raged
Down cliffs and plummeting, long slopes of rock.

“I know,” she said into the moaning wind.
“But change has come, and dragonkind will change,
Or else the village humans will become
Like ravers with a rage too strong to stop.”
She paused, her voice so strong it magnified
The noise the wind made as it swept up snow.
She turned back to her daughter, forcing down
The roaring in her voice. “The girl is strong,
But weak,” she said at last. “I’ve tried to stop
The dreams, but every night they’re more intense.”

Mmlynn kept staring at her mother. Dreams
By dragons who had lived so long, that came
From layers far below their consciousness,
Could never be ignored. Their prophecies
Came from the minds of all the dragons living
Inside the mountain’s winding tunnels, caves.
Her mother, even when she’d been too young
To be a dragon dreamer, had the dreams
No dragon dared dismiss if dragonkind
Could keep their ancient sentience and will.

“We’ll need a conclave then,” she said, her voice
So small it disappeared into the air.

Ssruann looked at the remnants of the dreams
That floated, pale with images, inside her mind.
“They’ll want to kill the child,” she said, her question
Of why she cared posed when the hunter fled
Still in her voice. “When frightened, every life
delivers death to try to stay alive.”

Mmlynn turned back toward her dragonlings.
“They will,” she said. “No matter what you say.”

She left. The Old One turned back to the storm.
How could the child survive? she asked herself.
Alone, a winter worse than any one before,
The village humans building rage against
A human child that they had never seen—

She turned back to her bed. What could she do?
She asked. What magic did the child possess?
What madness plagued her through unwanted dreams?

The storm would end, she thought. It had to end.
And then? The question settled in the cave.

Note: This is the sixth installment of a long poem. Inspired by John Keats’ long narrative poem, Lamia, it tells a story set in ancient times when dragons and humans were at peace. Click on the numbers to reach other sections, or go to the Categories box under The Dragon Epic. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Go to 7 to reach the next section.

The Old One Audio


Filed under Poetry, The Dragon Epic, Thomas Davis