All the messages received in my sleep

This site is named Shadow Dispatches, the same phrase that gave the title to my second pamphlet. It comes from the below poem, ‘Somnography’ (a word I kind of made up: literally sleep writing) which talks about messages or emails that definitely exist during the night but disappear somehow before dawn. It was once filed under a line from a scene in the film The Science of Sleep featuring a dream message (‘Your neighbour, a liar’).

I called the pamphlet Shadow Dispatches partly because it seemed a way to talk about a B-side-ish nature of the poems included: lots had been placed in competitions, but few really had public lives or readers. They were out there, but not out there. Putting them together in the pamphlet was a way to try to address this, but the title was a nod to the notion that they, like the dream messages, might not get through.

Today is National Poetry Day, and the theme this year is messages, so this seemed like a good time to throw this poem back out into the ether, and see what sticks.




Early this morning I got your note.

I can’t recall the words or meaning,


only the light oblique on the screen

and how it made it feel, certain


transmission was real. I could recite

all the messages received in my sleep


which days have tried to prove imagined,

and one correspondence aborted mid-sentence


which sent itself nevertheless, as though

the content refused erasure, arriving


complete through the ether. We dare not believe

these shadow dispatches: corrupted, wishful,


impossible to delete. The same way sheets

I never strung to dry at a window


still fill the room with sails long after

I’ve moved, and how I’m still reading a letter


a man never sent, though I could repeat it

verbatim, clear as the sun through the linen,


billowing yellow and sweet as the wedge

that lit your words I can’t remember,


or that email which backspaced even as I scrolled

down the face of the dream computer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: