The Distance in Light Years of Dreams/ poem by Matthew J. Spireng

Some mornings we wake disturbed by a memory
of what had danced through our brain while asleep, a memory
so vague it cannot be brought up from the depths

of the unconscious mind. It leaves us uneasy,
feeling as if something has been left undone, though as time passes
it becomes less and less of a disturbance until we think of it

not at all. And some mornings we wake right out of a dream,
its every detail fresh as a green sprout pushing up after the first rain,
marvel at its strange juxtapositions, the point of view,

how while in it we believed it, though now we see how impossible
it was from the waking world. And then some of it fades
and if we haven’t written it down right after waking

we begin to lose it altogether until after a time there is so little left
it is nothing of what it was, it is only a dream, and, as we leave it,
move on to cares and responsibilities and getting ready to sleep

another night, we think nothing of what might flare up
behind flickering lids and take us somewhere unfamiliar before
dying down again and, waking or not, fade like some distant stars.


This poem, "The Distance of Light Years in Dreams," was first published in U.S. 1 Worksheets. Mr. Spireng can also be read in previous issues of Lightwood, where three of his poems and a review of his book Good Work have been published. Click his name on our Search button.

Matthew J. Spireng’s 2019 Sinclair Poetry Prize-winning book Good Work was published in 2020 by Evening Street Press.  An 11-time Pushcart Prize nominee, he is the author of two other full-length poetry books, What Focus Is and Out of Body, winner of the 2004 Bluestem Poetry Award, and five chapbooks. He was the winner of The MacGuffin’s 23rd Annual Poet Hunt Contest in 2018 and the 2015 Common Ground Review poetry contest. Website:

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