What Boys Think About Dreams/ The Wisdom of Photons/ The Fireflies

[poetry]

What Boys Think About Dreams

Reading The BFG in my Grade 3 classroom in China,
discussing how the giant bottles up dreams.

Sensitive, overweight, shy Chinese boy asks:
Do dreams die?
(He dreams of fast food and being loved.)

Fiery-haired ferret-fast third-culture Brit is convinced:
Yes, they get used up. Simple.
(He dreams of sports glory and growth spurts.)

Paper slim, tree-clambering mountain Swiss boy:
You can use dreams three times.
(He dreams of saving endangered jungles.)

Bespectacled, ill-behaved son of a female CEO states:
Dreams disappear whether you like it or not.
(He dreams of futuristic travel and seeing his father.)

Furiously imaginative, home-work hating German boy:
If you don’t use them, they become nightmares.
(He dreams of speaking his mind without anger.)

The debate continued but was many years ago.
Boys all teenagers now, hopefully living the dreams.


The Wisdom of Photons

But the dark embraces everything:
shapes and shadows, creatures and me – Rilke (2)

I wake up in the middle of the night.
A single star winks at me. Photons fired
out thousands, maybe millions of years ago,
skimming space, slipping solar systems,
sneaking past planets—one true beam
sometimes bent by the gulp of gravity,

but always adhering to its lucky destination.
Looking at starlight, I feel the glaring truth:
on the long road of Order to Disorder—
a journey of trillions of years uncountable
in this fleeting human mind—I am just
a flicker, a tiny finger of light and heat,

hardly noticeable in this minuscule moment,
yet a flame nonetheless, with heat and light
and worth and rage. So I must try to shine,
shine all the brighter for the dying light I am.
I thank the photons for teaching me. What
they lack in mass they make up for in wisdom.


The Fireflies

My wife tells me to go to the car park,
to the wooded edge where the night starts.

Tiny bold lights lazily carouse the air.
One or two at first are amazing enough.

Then a cluster. Some come to investigate
me, landing on my trousers, blinking approval.

I am amazed there is such magic here
in the woods of Montagnola, metres from

overpriced food for Ferrari drivers,
alcohol diffusing any wider awareness.

Hesse knew this, he found the fireflies
and bemoaned the shrinking of woods.

Author Headshot

Matthew James Friday is a British-born writer and teacher. He has had poems published in numerous international journals, including, recently: One Hand Clapping (UK), Borderless (India), and The Ear (USA). The mini-chapbooks All the Ways to Love, Waters of Oregon and The Words Unsaid were published by the Origami Poems Project (USA). Matthew now resides in the US.