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Showcase: Panther Run + Dream Babies + Knitting Pattern Of The Day + Dream + My House Of Dreams + Pretty Bubbles

Edited by Lucy Kaufman

Welcome to the second of my five showcases for May, on the theme of Transcendence. This week we are exploring Transcendence via our dreams. When we dream, we create whole dreamscapes and alternative worlds to our own, populated by people we do and don’t know, where anything is possible and earthly logic and physical laws don’t apply. In our dreams we can fly, freefall without injury, places and people can change and morph in the blink of an eye and we can sometimes see ourselves.

Freud, of course, is famous for his theories about the unconscious, why we dream and what various images in our dreams mean. For some, dreams can be prophetic or have fixed meanings; for others, dreams are a means of escape from our everyday lives, a place where we tap into our raw creative potential, but often they can be a place where anxieties play out, and dreams turn to nightmares, or even terrify us in the form of sleep paralysis.

For me, dreams are where we get to explore ourselves, our lives, and real and imaginary environments in a safe way. The distorted, surreal imagery of dreams has provided artists, poets, writers and film-makers with rich material for their waking hours.

In my first piece this week, Mary Petiet conjures perfectly the transcendent feel of a dream in her poem Panther Run.

Panther Run

The dreamscape panther runs, lunging agile, undeniable
tearing at my eyes, my throat, my heart
a young man moves to spear her, but I gesture him away

I am merging with the panther as she rips apart my senses
I am dying to the old as I am born into the new
I am shifting, shaping, changing
I am one thing then the next

now I panther-run the dreamscape along the moon-lit path,
see through new eyes, speak with new breath,
return from the dreamscape with a heart-song
full of waking poetry.

© Mary Petiet, 2024


I love how the dream turns from nightmare to renewal, with the dreamer resurrected from a savage death to being shape-shifted into the body of the panther. And the rich fullness of that final phrase a heart-song full of waking poetry! I wonder if Mary sat up and scribbled down the poem as soon as she woke up? It’s curious how, in my dreams, I’ve written songs, film plots, even whole musicals, only to wake up and find that I remember very little of what I created.

However, in my own prose poem, I write about some of my other nocturnal creations:

Dream Babies

My dream babies, the boys and occasional girls, whose names are on the tip of my tongue, have faces as real and familiar as if I’ve known them all their lives. The pregnancies come first, before the inevitable births, long and painful, and every bit as terrifying as waking births. The false memories I hoard of our lives together are as tangible as the anxieties about their nurseries and future school. All night I handle them deftly, feeling as inadequate as if I were their real mother. Despite their bodily functions, nappies and tiny clothes, my Jungian young ones remain suspended in dreamland, lost to me, never to be held again, never to grow up.

I wonder, when my dream babies sleep, do they dream of me?

© Lucy Kaufman, 2019


In this next poem, Eithne Cullen renders that delirious-like feel dreams can sometimes take on into words, when our minds feel overly-preoccupied with one thing – in this case, knitting.

Knitting Pattern Of The Day

I’m scrolling, sending emails to the bin
and, just as I press delete,
one calls out to me- as it disappears
“Dreamy Knitting Patterns”

all night I’m haunted
by knitting pattern dreams:
at first they come in flying –
Origami cranes across the sky
they dance and change,
they purl and form a chain
and knit and grow before my eyes

needles fly like vicious rain
lacy clouds float by
the ground is rich with blackberries
where woven baskets lie
among diamonds heaped around
in the deep and mossy ground

© Eithne Cullen, 2023

Connect with Eithne on X: @eithne_cullen and Instagram: @eithnecullen57

I love the rich visuals and textures in Eithne’s dream – origami, lace, woven baskets, moss – and the colours and shapes juxtaposed with the blackberries and diamonds. But it’s also the feverish energy of the knitting itself that gives that sense of delirium: needles fly like vicious rain.


Similarly, in the following poem, Julie Dexter uses strong colour and imagery to transport her vivid dream directly into our minds.


Half way down the busy harbour
where they trade the sea for supper,
where the sea is stone-glittered and shadows deep,
and the grasses
wave their grief at my feet,
the trees of your mind are red as the night is titanium white,
the sunset sky is magnet
and the sun still beats.

The sea is stone-glittered and
shadows deep
And the grasses wave their grief at my feet.

©️ Julie Dexter, 2024

Connect with Julie Dexter on X: @julieadexter and Instagram: @Latenightswimmer

I admire the painterly quality of this poem, that literally uses paint colours (titanium white) to render the night, but also the song-like quality with the repetition in that final stanza. There is so much strength here, too, with the sky a magnet and the sun beating, like a heart, in a harbour so full of life – and death – that even the grasses are full of grief.


Another meaning of ‘dream,’ of course, can be the longings of the daydream variety. Our desires and visions of our possible futures can occupy us just as much as our night-time reveries. In the next poem, Jennifer Lilian Pelc describes her dream home, a safe and happy place she can visit and reside in, now, whenever she dwells on it.

In recent years, psychologists have brought into the mainstream the idea of our ‘happy place’ – places inside ourselves where we can take ourselves whenever we need solace, retreat from the world, rejuvenation, peace, or a feeling of safety. Jennifer’s poem makes use of this brilliantly, describing to us how her dream home is so well-imagined and fully kitted out in her mind that it’s been locked in her soul and taken root in her ‘memory store.’ Jennifer has even provided us with a painting of her dream home, with its path and wisteria, situated in a mountainous, pine-treed landscape.

My House Of Dreams
(c) My House Of Dreams, Jennifer Lilian Pelc, 2024

My house of dreams is where my heart is.
Golden spirit moon shimmering its night time light, rays reflecting
on whimsical silver topped mountains which stand tall and bright

It’s not a physical space but nevertheless it’s a real place.
A place of desire with its warm open fire locked inside my soul
its bright yellow embers burning the shimmering coal

There is a path which leads to an open door
surrounded by sweet smelling wisteria blossoms,
their roots lodged deep inside my memory store

When I close my eyes and go inside my home
I know someone is watching over me and I’m not alone.
The door is always unlocked, warmth and laughter constantly there
Beckoning me, in even my deepest despair

It’s my forever home
a place where my spirit is free to roam
a place of peace bathed in golden light
And it is now time to rest there
my eyes gently close, sleep well and goodnight.

© Jennifer Lilian Pelc, 2024


Sometimes, dreams and daydreams can remain as fantasy. Through fantasy, we explore our desires and who we might be, if we had the courage to dare.

In my next piece, an extract from my own novel Pretty Bubbles, which is about the dreams and ambitions of 1950s teenager Gillian and her young beau Bobby (based on a young Bobby Moore). Here, she imagines what could happen at tonight’s dance Bobby has invited her to. Unfortunately for Gillian, after this scene fate is not going to be kind to her and her fantasy is going to remain just that. For, as we know from West Ham’s famous anthem, dreams, like pretty bubbles, can burst.

Extract From Pretty Bubbles 

Gillian undressed, climbed in the bath and laid back, her shoulders submerged. She allowed the hot, bubbly water to lap over her and breathed in the heady scent of the bubble-bath. The iridescent bubbles lined up in their hundreds, each one vying for her attention. They bobbed pink, yellow, blue and green, pressing with the lightest touch against her skin. In this heavenly state, Gillian closed her eyes and envisioned how it would be later tonight, when she finally met up with Bobby.

She pictured him, brushed and polished and swathed in a golden light, escorting her into the dance. He would dash her a shy smile, maybe even take her hand, or place the flat of his palm on her back, exactly how Rock Hudson might guide Doris Day. And there would be so many couples, older couples, and of course his parents, who would gasp admiringly at the bright sheen of her dress and her borrowed-from-Peggy slender stiletto heels. They would nod and say to Bobby, “She’s quite the young lady”. Perhaps his father, or one of his pals from the club, would even wink at Bobby when he thought she wasn’t looking. As soon as all their backs were turned, Bobby would lock onto her, exactly how he did on the train, on the bus, and all those times when the rest of the world faded away into the blur of the background and it was just the two of them alone, in the sharpest of focus. Then the band would strike up a romantic melody – she could hear strains of Secret Love inside her head – and Bobby would ask her if she cared to dance. She would nod – not too eagerly, but not too uptight either – and she would follow him to the dance-floor, where they would find a space amongst the couples and Bobby would drape his warm arm around her waist and pull her to him. His hair would be damp with perspiration and she would smell his Cussons soap smell and he would be Bobby. So Bobby. All Bobby.

Gillian lay amid the pretty bubbles and ran through that same scene over and over again, her future becoming more and more embellished with each re-run. In the final version, Bobby walked her all the way back to her bus stop. When he was sure no-one was looking their way, he pressed her against the wall and kissed her. A square kiss on the lips that took even Gillian by surprise – the real Gillian as well as the one in her fantasy, who withered at the first hint Bobby’s lips were heading towards hers. There it was. A kiss. Warm and plump and raw and fleshy.

The water had turned cold and the bubbles were mostly gone, the few that remained colourless and tiny.

© Lucy Kaufman, 2014


Not all of our dreams can come true, but maybe, in the act of dreaming, by visualising what we want and what could be possible, we change and grow and form new neural paths that will aid us in the future. Dreaming is very much part of being human and, even though we have physical and environmental limitations, through dreaming we transcend those limitations and visualise other, often better, worlds.

Lucy Kaufman is a playwright, author and screenwriter, as well as lecturer in Playwriting and Screenwriting for Pen to Print. You can connect with Lucy on X: @lucykaufman_ or on Instagram: @kaufmanlucy 


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