Directed Dreaming, a Double Sonnet

Skipper and Mate


Hawk Channel, we sailed it last night in dream
borne on the salt flow of the slow Gulf Stream.
The scene shifted; we tacked the Francis Drake,
shifted again by twenty years to Lake
Superior, round the Apostle Islands,
climax oak on their low-lying highlands.
Tyros to veterans, slowly we became
mariners worthy of that honored name.


In Heaven I don’t think we’ll sail a boat,
only the cloud on which we’ll stay afloat.
You will be twenty-four, I twenty-two,
retaining all we ever knew.  Mon vieux,
we will amuse King David. Risen Lord,
grant us eternity, redeemed, restored.


Proving Grounds


I dream of all the mountains we explored,
the wild Wind Rivers and the Beartooth too
when wilderness was all that we adored,
two trekkers trembling for a montane view.


Gannet glimpsed from the sheared Square Top Plateau
topped via chimney where we should have roped,
its clinkers tipsy in the slippery snow,
the USGS maps by which we groped,


choosing new routes, tent sites by gurgling streams—
a week of food we carried on our backs.
Two young men had an aptitude for dreams,
a dome tent and internal frame back packs.


Each found the fortitude to fight despair,
to face down death in an infusion chair.


Timothy Murphy is one of America’s premier lyric poets. His first book, Deed of Gift, was published in 1998 with a preface by Richard Wilbur. His most recent book, Devotions, was published this March with a foreword by Dana Gioia. He was born in Bob Dylan’s hometown Hibbing Minnesota, passed through Yale and the mentorship of Robert Penn Warren, ended up as a major poet of the Great Plains. He now sings of God, and dogs, and hunting, and cancer, and the love of his life (who also converted to Catholicism late in life) the late Alan Sullivan.  Do not miss the chance to listen to Timothy Murphy recite “Directed Dreaming” below.


Timothy Murphy


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