Friday, Dec. 13, 2002, 1:54 AM

Enlightened dreams

I have a 1916 Underwood open-faced typewriter in my closet. The body is constructed of cast iron. It must weigh 40 pounds. It is in perfect working order, and yet I have never used it to write a story. On top of my desk I have two goose-feather quills and a ceramic inkwell. I also have a glass bottle of ink and an antique fountain pen. All never used. I have a shelf on the small wooden bookcase in my living room devoted entirely to journals that I have amassed over time. More than ninety percent of the pages in each one remains blank. I wear a silver ring on the middle finger of my right hand engraved with the words "por tous jours," which loosely translated means "always." It is a reproduction of a ring in a British museum. It is a Posey ring. They were used as wedding rings in medieval Europe and England. In A Midsummer Night's Dream Shakespeare wrote "is this the real world or the poem in a ring" referring to a Posey ring. I bought it for myself as a graduation present from college. I have a degree in Creative Writing from college still sealed in the envelope in which it was mailed to me. They all exist to remind me.

I carry a pressed four-leaf clover in my wallet. I found it one day in my front yard when I was very young. I told my mother I was going outside to get a four-leaf clover, and I did. I have the white gloves I wore to my high school prom. I have a silver harmonica given to me by my first girlfriend. I never learned to play it.

Omnipotent impotent monks line the streets begging for a feast. Striking their little gongs to the beating of their hearts. I stand on the roof and listen to the noise rise above the din of the people and the traffic. The sound of enlightened solidarity wafting towards the heavens. Of course they know I am standing above them, for that is the nature of omnipotence. The dreams had become more intense of late and I was having a hard time distinguishing between sleeping and waking. Slowly I began to realize that the waking world was the one that didn't make sense. In the dreaming you are not confused. You are accepting of the fact that you do not know the person travelling in the car next to, but yet, somehow, you understand that you are married to that person driving this car that is not yours, but is, as you travel off of the end of a bridge and plummet head-long to the ground thinking, "yes, this is what's next, isn't it." That quality of absoluteness is lost when you emerge, groggy, into the world of conscious, waking thoughts. Perhaps that is the reason those little orange-robed, cross-legged, bald-headed men are smiling. Perhaps enlightenment is nothing more than the ability to carry over into the waking world the same sense of clarity and stark belief conjured in the deepest sleep of dreams. As I contemplate this thought I realize that I have removed it from my pocket and have stood for some undetermined amount of time turning it over and over, rolling it around in the palm of my hand. The smooth surface hardly feels like anything at all, being as close to frictionless as possible. It is hardly noticeable to the touch. Only the weight and temperature difference belies its existence at all. I wonder what would happen if I just dropped it from the roof? And all at once the world has gone quiet. The gonging and chanting have ceased as though the monks have only just now become aware of my intentions. What do they know I wonder as I hold my hand out beyond the edge of the building. It seems to be pulsing ever so slightly. I take a step closer to the edge so that when I it drops it will travel unimpeded to the street several stories below. And now the pulsing has turned into a throbbing, and as I tilt my hand it rises to a beating. It rolls from the center of my hand towards the edge. The monks have started to scream in piercing shrieks and wails, prostrating themselves on the street, beating their hands upon their heads. What do they know I wonder as I tilt my hand further to accelerate the process, and that's when it happened. The world turned. Of course it's turning all the time on it's imaginary axis, but this time the axis seemed to have shifted so that it was an extension of my arm, and the world had turned so that it stopped rolling toward the edge. The world turned a little more and it ceased rolling. The world turned a little farther until it came to rest back in the center of my palm. And I thought "yes, this is what's next, isn't it." The wind was rushing past my body and making noise in my ears. The monks had all gone silent, their heads and eyes upturned to watch me fall. It was still in the center of my palm, but I had closed my fingers around it to prevent it from turning the world any farther. It was no longer pulsing-it was pounding furiously, but I held on. I held it as the street rushed to greet me. I held it as the windows seemed to rush away from me, falling up to the sky. I shifted my weight so that I turned in the air. I no longer wanted to see the ground grow, I wanted to see instead where I had been, and there it was hovering above me where the clouds were congregating to speculate on my earthward plunge. I closed my eyes and concentrated on the vibrations it was sending down my arm as it beat furiously against my closed fist. And after I landed on the ground, feeling the concrete crack beneath the impact, I slowly opened my eyes to see the heads of the monks swimming above me as they looked down upon my broken body. One of them smiled, reached down, opened my hand and plucked it from me like a ripe fruit ready for harvesting. I watched as he slipped it into some hidden recess of his robe. And when his hand emerged a second later it was wrapped around the end of a stick that the monks used for beating their gongs. He placed it in my now empty hand and curled my fingers around the end. Another monk held a gong above me and nodded first towards it and then towards my hand that was now grasping the stick. I slowly raised my hand toward the gong and struck it twice in the center. The first monk smiled and said "thank you for this" as he patted the outside of his robe above a hidden pocket where it now lay. A second monk said "we have been expecting you, welcome brother." And a third clapped his hands and yelled, "now wake up!" And I did.