Dreams of Nightmares


Dreams of Nightmares



Dreams smooth then haunt

the time between sleep and waking

throughout our bones.


Huddled in dark clusters,

feeding off ragged moments of fears

and sorrows from long time ago.


Yet here we are

haunting our better selves

in the desert tumbleweed

with the worst of our actions.


Sharing universal shards of memory

breaking through greed and racism,

screaming that our world

is now different.

With Black Lives Matter

along with all lives -

reminding that we are better

than vague clusters of nightmares.  


In a language of sighs and nods

to be perfectly understood,

the balmy evening hides moonlit stars,

shimmering through tall pines

from across the river.


His hands shake like tall grass

bending in the squall of rain.

Thinking her fingertips

were placed on the grave

of his loved one.

She hears every soft word

he murmurs.


The trick is staying alive

 The world is full of dangers.

Our parents knew this.


But, later we forget and

find ourselves walking

 on roads in dark clothing,

crossing fields of cows


who in panic could crush us.

Hailstones can pound at our heads,

 or snow leave us shivering with fever,

or ice crack to reveal the crevices


down which black holes

we could plunge, ropes swinging

 loose from trees or buildings.

Masonry can fall or pavements


trip up the unwary.

While kitchens reveal knives

 sharp as predator’s teeth,

or cans to rip the fingers,


while fire brands the arm.

Outside, even escaping

 the snake’s hiss, the lawnmower

has a penchant for toes,


and for cutting its cords.

Stings, bites, rose thorns,

 with potential to fester and

shock, festoon our journeys.


Don’t get me started on bacteria,

virus, infections, conditions.

The world is full of dangers

Get that door slammed


before it breaks and wolves take

you falling through white space.



Ian Prattis


Ian Prattis, Zen Teacher, Anthropology Professor Emeritus, peace and environmental activist, was born in the UK. He has spent much of his life living and teaching in Canada. His moving and eye-opening books, essays and poetry are a memorable experience for anyone who enjoys reading about primordial tendencies. Beneath the polished urban facade remains a part of human nature that few want to acknowledge, either due to fear or simply because it is easier to deny the basic instincts that have kept us alive on an unforgiving earth. Prattis bravely goes there in his outstanding literary work. A stone tossed in the waters of life.


  1. truly my favorite of the crop. thank you for this examination

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