Daniel Pateman

2 minute read

Dreaming of Deja-Vu

I enter a disparate terrain, bristling,
Register emerald burnished-gold and blue
‘For Sale’ signs which smile mute,
Having once gone thunk-thunk-thunk into ethereal earth,
I think.

A building. A home I had forgotten until it
Materialised. A place that hadn’t existed
Until I remembered. Like the earthy pulse
Which ebbs and flows in my absence.

It embellishes itself as I approach.
Grasses and wheat seeking ceilings,
Vines adorning doorframes and windowpanes
Like endearing impositions;
Distant relatives come to stay.

Successive invisible veils withdraw
And I know this as the set of a film
James Dean never made.
The poster by the worn picket fence indicating
Him in white cardigan ablaze
Besides the fields his fiery beneficiaries.

Giddy confusion. The bounty of a glorious
Deja-vu. I returned to this place
I didn’t know I knew (or did I?).
This never-never land which had persisted,
Transformed, insisting on its own existence.

Dying, flowering and perspiring without me.
Surviving in a shifting landscape of memories.
But becoming a sacred museum (interregnum)
When I come back to visit in my dreams.

In response to the theme ‘An Investigation of Dreams’ and my poem’s take on it…

Dreams are vital, potent distillations of lived experience, that I think, are able to articulate areas of life that the rational brain and rational society repress. Personally, they can be incredibly recuperative. A good dream can be healing, bringing parts of your emotional life to light and encouraging their expression. In their manifestations of the ostensibly illogical and nonsensical, they are liberating and enlightening, privileging emotion and imagination in playful ways often derided in our waking adult lives.

Dreaming of Deja-Vu was written in response to a dream in which I experienced the sense of returning to a place I felt I’d visited before in a dream many years ago, and that only seemed to have an existence in this sleepy realm. It appeared changed somehow though as if it had fallen into ruin in my absence…though the longer I was there, inside the overgrown location of a film James Dean had made, the more a doubt grew in my mind that I’d ever had this dream before. The cause of this dream was, I think, a pencil. A souvenir I’d picked up at the James Dean Museum in Indiana a few years ago, and had that day plucked from my pencil case to sharpen.

The poem expresses the diffuse logic of dreams, and the collision of two mental phenomena; dreaming and deja-vu. It explores how dreams are products of desires and memory, a ‘conversation of consciousness’ taking place between the past, present and future on a horizontal plane. Dreams can be places of refuge from the vagaries of the ‘real-world’, and seem to have their own reality, as our emotional life has it’s own reality (‘dying, flowering and perspiring’), our inner landscape transforming throughout our lives.

Find Daniel here: dan1pateman.wordpress.com