I don’t usually get celebrity appearances in my dreams but when David Bowie, a lifetime hero of mine, made a short appearance in a recent one (a bit like his appearance in Ricky Gervais’ EXTRAS…see below), I had to record the event. Since his death, I have been troubled by the fact that I hadn’t written anything that recognised his part in my life. Maybe I was trying to tell myself something?
The poem (quite different from what I usually write) is my response to David’s appearance as I was woken at a pivotal point in the dream and had to get up and write down as much of the dream as I could remember.
The poem is really about creativity as I ended up researching the psychology of religion because of it. Let’s just say thanks to David, I ended up learning something…or then again…it was me that summoned him up, wasn’t it?
MEETING DAVID BOWIE ON THE ROAD TO EMMAUS
The first time I met David Bowie in a dream
Was alluded to in our second meeting.
I ask him if he remembers me
But he just laughs…a familiar laugh
Perhaps the one from the intro of “Andy Warhol”.
“Of course I do,” he says, “for me it was no time at all!”
Same night…a matter of minutes, apparently.
David is close to death and still working
On a film with Jack Nicholson; Old Nick,
Who had gate-crashed the first dream
While out on the lash with his mates.
This time it was just David and me.
He says Jack is great fun to work with
And I nod assured of the truth of it.
We are talking on a sunlit back street;
One side of which is lined with garages
Knocked together in post-war pride but
Now stifled by an aura of hot dust and oil
Uninvited weeds and furtive asbestos.
Familiar… (a childhood memory perhaps?)
David, sat in some large bespoke wheelchair,
Proceeds to unzip his protective body suit
And shows me his emaciated legs;
Rubbing at the conspicuous veins
With his long delicate fingers.
“Get on,” he says and the two of us ride
Through the city; (Sheffield apparently.
Being a dream; it has to be somewhere)
To a non-existent gentrified area of tapas bars
Undercover, all potted palms and star-clustered ceiling.
Staffed by locals, flat-vowelled with genuine smiles;
We are given a table and politely watch
As the chef, played here by the proprietor
Of a fish and chip shop in West Cornwall,
Prepares bread and oil at the table
In an act of communion before us.
His hope to create a wonder to behold,
A flower blooming from out of the bread,
Ends in disappointment; for him more than us
David takes the now-abandoned bread,
Breaks it, dips it in the chrism and eats
As though he hasn’t eaten in a long time.
The fall of a sleeve reveals a stigma;
Here a vein that once coursed with creativity
Now mars the thin white arm and…
It was then that my dream was disturbed
(Some person, from Porlock perhaps ,
Arrived and tapped at my perceptive door?)
Fearing that this subliminal experience may
Be consigned to the vortex of lost dreams;
I forced myself to rise and write like
Some latter-day saint or blazing apostle
Eager to tell others the words of his god
(Or at least his interpretation of it).
Only the other day I chastised myself
For not having marked David’s passing
With some lasting homage of my own.
How could I not pay tribute to this entity
That matched the strides of my waking life;
Touching it in places, yet ever changing?
How to honour…to worship perhaps?
And then he comes to me in a dream;
Crashing out from my Sylvian fissure
Like a crack in the sky and his hand
Reaching down to me, pointing…
Pointing to the creation of an idea
That might just be of some weight.
Jung informs and parades the worth
Of a magical travelling companion
Who guides us through the labyrinth;
Illuminating our dreamscapes and
Diffusing the shadows in our minds.
Light around dark. The lumen naturae…
Conceals itself beneath a bushel yet
Recognises the darkness as its own.
A solar eclipse…veiling the sunshine;
Not a light to look at but one to see by
Like a black star…just like a black star
David appeared to me despite his death
Returned like some conjured up soul
At the behest of this extra large medium
Did he come to me in a dream because
I felt the need to draw on his muse or
To believe he’s alive and with me always?
A common fancy among the religious
But a dubious epiphany for an atheist…
One that tells me more about myself –
The one true god in most people’s life
(If they are being honest with themselves).
It’s me that requires guidance so I ordain it
And he comes unto me. Alive in essence.
Showing me his stigmata to prove it
His appearance enough to still influence
My thoughts, my psyche, my spiritual choice.
As the clerk in charge of data processing,
And ergo master of my own subconscious,
Should I take the credit for the realisation
Of this last incarnation of his genius?
Not all the dead are good at enduring
And it doesn’t take a god to tell you
That immortality comes through creation;
Whether a world or just the one poem
You must let your light emanate
And send it soaring out into space
In the hope one day they’ll say to you
You’ve really made the grade.
© gray lightfoot
Hear Gray read his poem at…
David Bowie makes a cameo appearance in Ricky Gervais’s comedy of embarrassment EXTRAS in which Andy Millman (Gervais) has finally made it as a sitcom star but feels he has sold out from what he set out to be. The meeting in a posh bar is excruciating for Andy as his casual conversation is turned into a song for the whole crowd to hear…he was much nicer in my dream. (Copywrite issues prevents the original video)