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.