Art and poetry on page and stage

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Barry Schwabsky

Rene Ricard Dream

In the dream I had last night
I was crossing the road in London
(I think it was Mile End Road)
when I literally bumped into Rene Ricard.

He was carrying a load of notebooks
and other personal items. He pushed them
into my hands, saying, I think
you could use these. I walked on

carrying them and stepped into a pub
where I could sit down and read them.
I was well aware that what had just
happened was extraordinary since

I knew in the dream that he had died.
I was amazed that I had been chosen
to receive these things since although
I had met Rene I did not “know” him.

Apparently the pub that I’d found
was one where he was a regular
because the people there recognized
that the stuff I had was his and they

asked about that. They didn’t show suspicion
but wonderment. The next thing I knew
I was at my friend Scott’s house
in Islington, still with Rene’s stuff,

telling Scott what had happened
but he didn’t know who Rene was
and I had to explain it to him. On
waking, I began to wonder

whether Rene had ever actually lived
in London. Somehow I doubt it.

Postscript to Rene Ricard Dream

Sage Robert advises that my dream
could mislead—“if it implies that Rene
was a great poet, which he was not,
imo. He had rare talents

but they lay elsewhere.” To live
in strangers’ dreams is talent indeed.
But is the Rene Ricard of my dream
Rene Ricard in person? Nothing

in dreams is entirely what we imagine.
This Rene Ricard of London looked
nothing like the one who walked
Manhattan’s streets. He more resembled

Gary Indiana. The High Priestess
of the Temple of Oshun says
mind my homework. But my Rene or Gary
gives permission to slough it off on you.

Barry Schwabsky is a poet and art critic for The Nation. His most recent books are Trembling Hand Equilibrium (Black Square Editions, 2015) and The Perpetual Guest: Art in the Unfinished Present (Verso, 2016).