Damn... back to the real world again. Life is great and all but... I'll leave that comment for later.
Most people wake up happy to see another day, “all praise to the most high,” they say. Me? I'd rather sleep for the rest of my life. I don't mean to die or to go comatose. I mean, literally sleep. See, me... I'm what you'd call a "lucid dreamer." I'm as conscious while dreaming as I am right now. The worlds I enter in the dreamscape are beyond amazing. This “real” world is bland and dry in comparison.
I start my days with breakfast followed by a pen and pad. I write until my fingers cramp and nearly begin to bleed: such is a poet’s life. I read a book on the train while headed wherever my mind takes me and suffer through the day. Regular guy, regular world. Then... It’s time to “wake up.” No longer bound by the qualities of an antisocial human being. In the dream world? I get to be free… while inside of the dream world? I am.
I can feel the vibrations of my cell phone cutting through the silence of my room. In my confusion, I scramble for the phone and nearly burn my cornea staring at the bright light.
"Yo, what's good?... Iight, no problem. I'll be there. One."
Virtually every second of the day I feel as if I’m getting called to be here or there. You'd think I'd learn to love it by now. Outside the protection of my four walls is a world ruled by the icy grips of death and the burning gaze of annoyance. Pick your poison. People never get to see that the Brooklyn way is to spread love. Instead, you get a city full of petty thugs who are too blind to notice their own potential.
"Spare change?" says a man down on his luck.
Two singles leave my pocket and make the poor old man that much richer.
With eyes that seem to have found a glimmer of hope he says,
"God bless you, brotha."
Even though it makes me feel good, I realize that I'm broke too and the bus, my main mode of transportation, doesn’t run on good will and promises.
“Shit, all this giving is gonna put me in his position much sooner than later.” I say while getting on the bus.
These buses seem to always be packed and it seems like everyone is always going in the same damn direction as me. Old ladies complaining, young kids screaming, this damn sure is the city life. I get off the bus leaving behind its cacophony and stepping back into the more harmonious sounds of the outside world. As soon as I meet up with my brothers we get to business. What needs to be done, which places we need to go to, blah, blah, blah. I drift off into my own little world while listening to Max talk.
My eyes are wide open, but I’m no longer where I should be. The sound of rushing water tears through the lush grass of the forest soaked in crimson, now masked by the scent of my old friend, Death. There's a war going on. I find myself running with my gun aimed. Why? Hell if I know, I just go with the flow. It’s almost like playing Call of Duty.
For what seems like an entire lifetime I feel a sharp pain running through my shoulder. A bullet tears flesh away from muscle and destroys everything on its way out. Blood soaks my shirt. Things start getting fuzzy.
"Yo bro, you listening?!" Max says in his usual demanding voice. It was only right that we put him in charge. At his height, he towers over the rest of us. He’s fit to be the backbone of our group of poets. Apart from being my coworker, he’s good friend of mine. We’ve shared the same ambitions for a very long time, and we’ve made a couple of dreams come true through hard work and perseverance.
Back to the real world, with real important conversations.
“Hmm? Oh, my bad. Yea.” I say while rubbing my eyes and shaking my head.
“It’s iight. Anyway, like I was saying. There were six shows last month. Each of which went nearly perfect, so I want to commend everyone on that.” Max says. We all look at each other with a sense of accomplishment.
“With that out of the way, let’s get to scheduling next month.”
Three hours later and I'm out of here. Back on this droll, loud, annoying bus. I find myself in a seat, staring at nothing. Then suddenly my eyes open. I'm back in my blood-soaked fatigues. Bandages all around my shoulder. I've got no clue where I am, but something urges me to get up and look around. Not too far from me is a huge tree, all alone in a plane that seems to be out of this… or at least my world, bearing strange fruit. Carved into the bark is the name Yggdrasil. Immediately I realize that this is the world tree that I’ve come across in so many of my studies. The one Thor and Odin spoke about so much in Norse mythology. The same world tree found in Egyptian mythology as well in the story of "Osiris" and the "Tree of Life."
Through the serene silence, disturbed only by the rush of an almost-divine wind, I hear a voice say, "Ralph Ave." Shit, that's my stop. I get off the bus just in time.
The walk home is always full of weird thoughts. The most prevalent one being "why is that old guy staring at me so hard again?" It’s like his whole being resents the fact that I’m alive and walking on this block. I never do much about it though, he's like 102 years old. Let him stare, the rest of the walk is a piece of cake. Apart from going up the stairs of my house and passed the monsters I call family. The isolation of my room is the best thing about this world. No annoyances, no racism, no government. Just me, my bed... and the occasional woman.
My head connects with the pillow, then... nothing.
...ood morning. It's time to wake up, I'm sure that even in your state no one sleeps forever."
That voice. It’s like every good feeling is carried by the sound it makes, who is that? I open my eyes only to find myself by the tree again, this time accompanied by what I can only describe as an African goddess. They say you can't dream of people you've never seen before but here this unrecognizable woman is, adorned in silk and gold. I stare at a face that makes me feel unworthy to look at, but I can’t turn away. I'm at a loss for words, but she speaks with a strength that seems almost primal and filled with an ancient power lost to the tongue of man long ago.
"My name is Aziza, I found you unconscious on the other side of the river". She says
Apparently she brought me back from the brink of death. I knew which way I wanted to thank her, but for a first time meeting a simple “thank you” seemed most appropriate.
“Thanks…” I say through my confusion. This place, it seems so real for a dream. Then again… perception is everything... What is real?
I place my palms on the ground in an attempt to push myself into standing position, and in that moment I notice my bandage wrapped shoulder.
“You were shot in the war over there. I took the bullet out and dressed your wound.” Aziza says.
“Thanks… again. I really appreciate it.” I say while wondering how long it would take for someone to go through the process of doing all of that.
“Don’t worry about it. You should get some rest for now, we’ll meet again.” Her words are deep and reassuring.
I lay back down and stare into the bright blue sky, confused yet content. I reach for the clouds as they slowly begin to meld with the sky like an oil painting in the heat. Everything that was now begins to fade. With my arm still raised, I realize that I'm now back within my own four walls. My own solitary confinement. My gift… and my curse.
Four... five. Five fingers. In dreams people have six or more fingers if they get the chance to look. I guess I'm not dreaming anymore. Might as well get up and start another annoying day. I’m alone, it seems that everyone already left the house. At least it's quiet. As I brush my teeth, I stare, into the sink and the water spiraling down the drain becomes reminiscent of the river running by the tree in my dreams. I lift my head to the mirror in front of me to check my teeth and there she was: Aziza, in all of her glory, staring at me with a face that looked as if she didn’t want me to go. I immediately turn around to nothing but an empty doorway. I convince myself that I'm just tired and half asleep. I pour myself a bowl of cereal and continue writing a poem from where I left off.
Time. Immortal. Immoral.
Manufactured by the physical and broken by the spiritual.
If this is so... Then it's obvious
Every moment that passes and hasn't passed yet is “the now” in the confines of my mind. I...
My focus is broken by my phone ringing. From the ringtone that’s playing, I can already tell that I'll have to leave my house, not something I was looking forward to today.
“Yooo” I answer the phone
"Yo bro, what are you up to?" Max asks
"Shit chilling man, I ain't got no plans for today." I say in response
“Iight come through, let’s work on some music,” Max says. Its more of a demand than a question.
“Eh, iight. I don’t see why not, I’ll let you know when I’m outside. One.” I say and hang up the phone.
Half an hour after our conversation ends, I'm out the door. On the streets of Brooklyn, breathing the... somewhat fresh air, walking trying to ignore everything. With a lack of enthusiasm for listening to old ladies complain about how slow the bus is going, I plug in my headphones and start blasting Biggie Smalls. I start the closest thing I can get to adventure in this “real” world. A long walk.
With every step I take, I can feel that something is about to go wrong. I no longer hear Biggie talking about partying and bullshitting. Through my headphones I can now hear my heart beat. When I reach the corner I feel a tug on my arm, forcing me to go in the opposite direction that I'm supposed to. Seeing no one there, I accept it as just a snap decision, not like it's something out of the ordinary for me. My heart beat slows and everything goes quiet, almost as if the world is now void of life.
...Then I hear it, almost in slow motion. That click that signifies the switch from the magazine to the chamber. Then that deafening sound that could wake the dead... I start to feel foreign arms keeping me from turning around and pushing me to move forward. I force my numb legs to get back into motion. With every step I take there's a new sound, life returns as an apparent death comes about.
Bird wings flapping away. Dogs barking. Children and women screaming. My ears are filled with the lyricism of Biggie Smalls again.
But all we wanna know is where the party at and can I bring my gat? If not, I hope I don't get shot. Better throw my vest on my chest, cause niggas is a mess.
I don’t need to deal with this crap, I’m going home.
This time I was more than happy to take the bus. As I reached to open the screen in front of my house door, in its reflection I saw her again, Aziza. Standing just a few steps behind me, with a sense of accomplishment on her face. Before I could turn around my phone started to ring.
"Where you at fam?"
"Yo bro you won't believe what happened, I was on my way and the block to your house got shot up. I took my jolly ass on home, I ain't feel like getting shot today."