Sade Murphy - this collection of prose poems, is a catalog of violence and somnambulant obsessions. This numerological tour de force creates a dreamscape that reflects various violence-saturated landscapes, including physical, sexual, psychological, racial, and gendered

Sade Murphy, Dream Machine, co-im-press, 2014.

excerpt 1 + excerpt 2

Dream Machine, Sade Murphy's debut collection of prose poems, is a catalog of violence and somnambulant obsessions. This numerological tour de force creates a dreamscape that reflects various violence-saturated landscapes, including physical, sexual, psychological, racial, and gendered. Among these, the speaker of the poems both enacts violence and receives it, and violence becomes a neutral tool, taking on the qualities of the body that wields it. Both excessive and inclusive, the collection probes the speaker's desire to hold order and chaos, good and evil—any false dichotomy—simultaneously in tension and in harmony. To disturb these oppositions, Murphy invents Him, an uncanny, destructive, confining—yet somehow alluring—presence to interrogate the male gaze and normative masculinity. In conjunction with the nightmare man and mother, Him completes a trifecta of forces, both real and symbolic, that the dreamer must navigate and extricate herself from to attain the freedom she seeks.

As globalized 21st-century citizens of massive material overload, there is no doubt we are intimate with our machines. But what about the machinations of dreams? In Dream Machine Sade Murphy leads us through fantastic panoramas fluid in their own methodical logic. We often take it for granted that machines are the official producers of the concrete in everyday life, but Murphy pulls the veil on that quaint old notion. Dreams, arguably the first assemblers, are solid helpmates in our layered realities lying just beyond the capitalist cloak.—Nikki Wallschlaeger

From its opening "Post Prelude," Sade Murphy's Dream Machine authorizes its own impossible temporality, deploying at the beginning and the end of time simultanaeously. With the vatic directness of Notley's Alette, Murphy's speaker moves through a precarious world of surreal compression which might implode or scatter apart at any minute, releasing new gusts of force and light. With its frankness, its surreal beauty, its grief, its danger and its erudite wordplay, Murphy's Dream Machine configures a new strategy for the inmates of the 21st century: something like radiant survival.—Joyelle McSweeney

There is something saintly happening in this machine. Filled with fires and rainbows, Sade Murphy's Dream Machine is a world of extremes, of fear and ecstasy. Sade's language penetrates me like a religious text, but goes beyond the good vs. evil binary. In this world good and evil are not separate, but one in the same, and all housed inside the human body. Each poem is a thorn I lay in my bed. Each poem sticks into my backside until I bleed. Sade, you have made my bed. And I am choosing to lie in it.—Christine Shan Shan Hou

Louise Glück writes in her Wild Iris, “At the end of my suffering, there was a door.” Conversely, Sade Murphy’s Dream Machine asks, “At the end of her dream machine, is there a door?” And what will that door open into?
Sade Murphy is from Houston. Like Rothko, she is an artist. Some artists work in media such as digital installation, painting, printmaking, and sometimes collage. What kind of literary medium is Murphy’s Dream Machine? Is it a hybrid between postmodernity and arithmetic? Between textual hallucination and dreamscape? Between prophecy and semiautomatic coital positions? Does it bear resemblance to Keith Waldrop’s dada-lyrical and radiant visual collages? What kind of poetry crop do we want and expect from a poet born in a city filled with magnolias?
In an interview, Murphy shares with the world that Dream Machine birthed from a writing exercise where she recorded the previous night’s dreams over breakfast. She has named her poems with numbers derived from various, selected places such as Imaginary Numbers, Biblical Numbers, Prime Numbers, Fibonacci Numbers, etc. She even has a category for Sexy Numbers. She connotes the number “0” as a sexy number. When it first appears to you, you realize that it makes sense why zero would be such. The round “O” for Orgasm. Surely it can’t be anything else.
Sade Murphy begins with this line from ‘Post Prelude to Dream Machine’: “The orgasm backfired muffled sobs on its crest.” As a reader or a lover of intimacy, you don’t expect an orgasm to backfire, but it has, and it appears on your first neonatal sampling of her work. So you continue as you suck on your thumb, hoping that by the end of the poem, the orgasm isn’t holding a handgun and pointing at you. You discover that it isn’t. In fact, most of Murphy’s lines are esoteric in themselves, rarely repeating though they multiply in their inventiveness. In fact, the only frequent visitor that traffics Murphy’s world goes under the name of “Him.” When “Him” is capitalized like so, you can only refer to Jesus and Houston because that is the only place where Jesus would want to be, you assume. As you travel down the highway of the dream constructions of Murphy’s world, you discover that you wish you could live in Murphy’s dreams for three primary reasons:
1) she has more interesting dreams than you do (“Damn unicorn gorging on cucumbers and tiger lilies”;
2) she has a better subconscious than you do (“Try for a caustic coup and do callous hiccups”;
3) she has a better memory than you do (“A catharsis of feathers, camouflaged lavalieres, percolating rococo kids in full French & Indian War regalia.”)
Try recalling that upon waking up and most importantly, try limning that in one line!
The most interesting aspect of Murphy’s work is her translation. How does she translate the visual world into the textual? She does this by giving herself the sovereignty and boldness to explore her interior worlds and to avoid the conventional methods that hold back her creative, intellectual properties. She is like the Charon of the dream world, where if you offer her a coin by reading her work, she will take you across the visual Acheron rivers of her dreams to the proper chthonic palace of her words. After all, as a kinetic, visual thinker, I can’t seem to be able to imagine (in reverse) what the visual world of “Humidity will flirt with your mouth” or “bedazzled vaginas glitter gaudy” or “equestrian socks” or “mausoleum screams” etc. would look like, but she has that fearless ability. She also invites her love for numbers to come with her as well. As you will notice, when numbers and letters co-exist, they heighten their sexual altitude even more. Manuscripts that capitalize on this level of sexiness often live an exotic, unquiet life, as demonstrated by Murphy’s book. Her sexiness lives here from poem titled “33”:
33 Humming to black and white British people. Projected optic maroon angels pinching your sideburned sunburned love handle. Do the French inhale for me and peel the camel hair shirt from the exquisite corpse of charity. Impressionistic and impressed, I am under every street light, shooting cannonballs of fleeting fireflies, carouseling at three thirty. Envy is an umbrella against a sandstorm of affection. You rest somewhere between queue and ewe, savagely pretentious, retrieving letters from the recycled rubble.
More than her ability to translate, Murphy’s talent exists in her ability to create magic. She gives language a new periodic table of elements. When she combines and recombines the different chemical elements of her linguistic playfulness, we expect combustion. Her dream recordings are a series of combustion, igniting the poetic landscape of the Digital Age. So what do readers expect of this Houston-born poet who loves the dictionary, who loves word play, who toils with the linguistic hallucinogens called dreams? Do we expect her poems to smell like magnolias, like an art gallery, like The Niels Esperson Building, like an Art Car Parade, like George Bush Intercontinental Airport? I don’t know, but what I can say is that her dynamic, polychromatic poems do not intend to lie still like a dead leaf, waiting to be decomposed by time and neglect. Her poems are born into the world to become Pythagorean medusas meant to make love to a lexical Hydra. - Vi Khi Nao

At the close of her Selected Poems, Rita Dove presents a chronology of her Pulitzer Prize-Winning characters Thomas and Beulah’s significant milestones.  She ultimately ends the timeline in April 1969, when Beulah passes away.  Since ancestry must continue, I’d use a bullet point  • to honor co-im-press’s 2014 publication of Sade Murphy’s Dream Machine.
Swap hard-working, empathetic Thomas with a creepy, faceless, sexier bastard, and instead of calling him Thomas, call him Him.  Imagine Beulah, but trade her personal Northern migration for a linguistic investigation into outrage’s roots. Then somehow manage to incorporate amazing fruit and vegetable imagery.  Dream Machine crowd-surfs the absurd, disturbs the sleeping, pinches the conscious on both cheeks Dutch-Colonial style, frightens the tranquil, and stimulates arm-stub nerve-endings like Johns Hopkins researchers attempting to help frustrated amputees.
Murphy’s poems are offered in brief declarative flare bursts. There are no titles, just seemingly random number sequences. Murphy sounds like Beulah would have sounded if her life had spanned all the moon phases of hip-hop. From progressive breakdance
(I put my babies in a feather crib)
(Joan Crawford was after me)
 To communally sarcastic
(my boot-flap bruise is sweeting)
(Armageddon banjo tunnel camper parlors annoy me so braid your heaters putz)
To perhaps a smidge corny
(You place your beanie babies atop the slot machine)
(When did I become a semicolon?)
To full-on gangster
(If you crossed me I would nail your sack to the floor and set the whole house on fire leaving you with a rusty butter knife)
(In grocery aisles baby blob arachnids bowling glass Coca-Cola bottles)
Back to another progressive beat fueled by mama-bear bards such as Harryette Mullen
(Humming to black and white British people)
(I moved closer to the bed, because I knew the King of Pop was rotting under those Swissed sheets)
 To currently twisting in a state of atmospheric dislocation like Dune, the spice planet:
 (I keep my virtue close but my vices closer)
(I prefer my feather inside the world)
Beulah would not entirely comprehend Murphy’s voice, but she would be proud of it nonetheless.  And Murphy wouldn’t care if anybody was proud of it.  That’s what makes her future as a poet so damned fun to footprint. - Jeffrey Hecker

6. Do not pretend that you do not know how to sleep purely for the dream. Do not ignore the moon streaming high speed light into your window. Do not deny wishing that you were not sleeping alone. Do not fear the boogeyman, he is no more real than the lover borne in the depths of your dreams. Do not seek to control the way you do in waking life, for you will only ruin what prophecy you may receive. Do not knot yourself up over the meaning, let it instead fall through your fingers like sand.
25. Double fisting microphones on stage, wobbling a little. Breadth, a neon cock. That is all she wrought and do not forget it motherfucker. Fifteen left steps always to the third floor and or the rooftop fireworks that need to be lit with your smile. Cawfee crew cruise, Cheshire bronze tea cups cracking like sunburned skin off your nose, shaken like a baby. —Excerpt from Dream Machine
Sade Murphy’s debut book of poetry, Dream Machine, is forthcoming from co•im•press this fall. There are 55 poems, with six poems each collected into nine sections. Numbers matter to Murphy here, but only in the way that the dreamer grasps at numbers on the verge of waking, seeking to realize some sort of universal order on the edge of consciousness. There is a sense in each poem that these were written on the borderland between dream and reality, where confusion and imagination coexist. This is a place Murphy has created for herself, where she can unmoor words from their old connotations and push them out into darker water. Characters move in and out of the poems—a lover and abuser called Him, a nightmare man, a cruel mother, and the dreamer, who both acts and is acted upon by her creations.
For the reader, these poems are both highly disorienting and highly intoxicating, like stealing looks inside the sleeping mind of a stranger. I wanted to know more about Murphy’s process of writing these poems, about what she has to say about the images and ideas of her dream world, so we sat down for a conversation in early October.
Laura Stokes (Rail): Tell me a bit about the process of composing the poems collected in Dream Machine.
Sade Murphy: Dream Machine began at the Vermont Studio Center, as a way to get myself writing everyday. The first 18 or so dream machines were written while I was there with 6 more written before the summer ended. I started out with a lot of structure, all these arbitrary rules for how I should behave, and it was good but stiff. As far as writing the poems goes, I’m a perfectionist (shamefully) and I’ll put off doing something until I feel like I can do it under near perfect conditions. There were dog-eared pages in my journals, scribbles of dreams written in dry-erase marker on my bathroom mirror, receipts with the beginnings of poems stuffed into my wallet, all accumulating until I could sit down and add them to the ongoing manuscript. Then as the project continued I broke free from those earlier constraints, let my hair down, stepped into my cunt and really drew from a broader range of experiences. The short answer would be to say that I wrote down what I dreamt. But there are dream machines, too, that are taken from conversations and happenings that felt like dreams, that were sort of incredible as they were occurring. The revision process is a big deal for me, and I’m always wondering as I’m writing how can I make this better, how can I push this poem to its absolute best iteration. It’s hard for me to describe because it’s something that feels very amorphous but ritualistic.
Rail: As I was reading this book, the line “Do not knot yourself up over the meaning, let it instead fall through / your fingers like sand,” struck me as a really wonderful directive about how to approach particularly the diction in these poems. How would you describe your approach to the language you used in this book?
Murphy: So true. I think that and the sentence right before, “Do not seek to control the way you do in waking life, for you will only ruin what prophecy you may receive,” was advice that I was also trying to take into the writing of these poems. I think in my daily life I really tend to agonize over the things I say and how I say them and how they may be received and interpreted or twisted, so communicating with people outside of myself comes with a lot of anxiety. The opportunity that I could be misunderstood can paralyze me a great deal and I let go of that fear while I was writing these poems. I used words and wrote things in these poems that made me slightly uncomfortable to read aloud later but at the same time made me feel dangerous and powerful in ways I hadn’t allowed myself to be up to this point. (Kind of a like a Beyonce-as-Sasha Fierce moment). No word was too obscene, taboo, obscure, or arcane. I used words from everywhere. During the latter half of the manuscript, I was watching a lot of nature and science documentaries, reading sociology casually, scrolling through the Oxford English Dictionary, making up words, twisting and combining words. I was also really inspired by poets who were doing fascinating things with language and translation in their own work. In the preface to All the Garbage of the World, Unite! Kim Hyesoon says, "I bend language on both sides to build a diction that undulates in a new way. Only then can poesy enter, transcendent, inside my poem." I felt excited and challenged by that.
Rail: It seems also like the sound of certain words really shaped these poems, too. I look at phrases like “Cawfee crew cruise” and “husked out hornets” from some of the poems and I wonder how much sound and rhythm mattered to you as you wrote.
Murphy: The aural experience of the poem is everything to me. I think that when I’m writing I always keep in mind how a poem will sound when I read it and a poem never feels finished until I’ve read it aloud, not just to myself but to another person. There’s something akin to breathing/speaking life into it that makes it real. I’ve been told that I have a really pleasing reading voice/style and I think it’s because I put so much energy into the way the poem sounds, the rhythm of the words, their weight. And it’s part of the revision process for me. I’ve definitely gone back and rewritten entire poems if it didn’t flow when I read them aloud, if it didn’t feel comfortable coming out of my mouth, if I couldn’t imagine myself reading it again and again. And I think that is another reason for a lot of the neologisms and portmanteaus that spring up. A professor once told me that “the image is the engine of the poem” and I’ve always held on to that. I kind of want to say that the rhythm is the chassis, but I don’t know that much about cars, so chassis just sounds like the right word for the analogy.
Rail: Thematically, I see some poems are about pursuit and escape, about capture/confinement and transcending that confinement. It seems to really link up nicely with your desire for freedom in the language. How intentional was that as you wrote them?
Murphy: I don’t think it was intentional. I think it’s just something that I’m always concerned with. 
Rail: There’s also the issue of alienation in the poems. I wondered if the idea of seeking freedom—in language, in experience—was connected to that, especially in terms of writing as a woman of color in America.
Murphy: Definitely. In “Imagining the Unimagined Reader” Harryette Mullen says, “When I read words never meant for me, or anyone like me—words that exclude me, or anyone like me, as a possible reader—then I feel simultaneously my exclusion and my inclusion as a literate black woman, the unimagined reader of the text.” The entire essay resonates with me. Growing up I was ostracized for loving to read (in and out of my family), and reading was my main means of escape. But it’s interesting to think of myself in the context of Mullen’s essay, as the unimagined reader of so many of the texts that I pored over in high school. I think of most of the books I read on the AP Reading List in high school and whether those authors ever imagined a girl like me reading their books. It’s not such a stretch for authors like Morrison, Baldwin, and Angelou but they weren’t the authors I was assigned as a high schooler. 
I notice how much policing marginalized bodies encounter. I worry about how much my poetry doesn’t center on the narrative of the dominant culture, and who it alienates because of that. I think about how white feminists (and other unfortunate souls) lose their shit over Beyoncé and/or Nicki Minaj and I see alienation as being part of that. Just on a lyric level, they are making music centered on their experiences and identities as women of color and the language they use reinforces that identity. And people are uncomfortable. If you had asked me even a year ago the same question I would have politely danced around it, but I feel very personally that if I (and people like me, black, women, queer, disabled, poor, fat, etc.) am going to be free, people with privilege are going to be alienated. It kind of makes me uncomfortable to even say that. A lot of Dream Machine was written as I dealt with feeling alienated in different realms of my life, so I feel like through the poems I go from alienated to alienator and it is not always fun but it is necessary. I want my voice and voices like mine to be heard over the pervasive noise of the mainstream.
Rail: What’s the importance of numbers to this project? How do you see those numbered sequences in terms of the dreams you’re describing?
Murphy: I’m obsessed with numbers and I’m a lapsed math nerd. The numbers are something in this project purely for my enjoyment. Even though I’m a mess of a person I love order, I love organization, so I see the numbers as a way to express that part of myself in the project.
Rail: I also wanted to ask you about the “Him” poems and other poems with sexual imagery. The male and female have very shifting relationships with respect to one another here.
Murphy: The character Him represents the male gaze and the multiple tropes of white boy masculinity, a sexual energy centered on mainstream male desires. I think this makes Him a fascinating focal point. Him is a destructive, confining presence even as Him is somewhat alluring. Him along with the nightmare man and the mother create a trifecta of forces/relationships both real and symbolic that the dreamer must navigate and extricate herself from to gain the freedom. They’re all using sex against the dreamer. Sex runs parallel to violence as a device/tool in the poems. In itself neutral, in the hands of various figures in the dreamscape it takes on a certain quality depending on that figure’s intent.
Rail: You’ve mentioned some artists and poets whose work influenced this book, but what other influences were important? How did the media and the larger world factor into the dreams as you experienced them?
Murphy: Very early on in the writing of Dream Machine I was reading a lot of Harryette Mullen’s work , I bought Recyclopedia at the recommendation of an artist I met at VSC. After I was at VSC I also visited NYC for four days and and went to the Frick and the Catholic Worker. I listened to Girl Talk nonstop. I saw the movie Tree of Life for my birthday and that prompted me to see The New World, another Malick film. I was going to mass every week. I think it was also around this time that I got into watching the cartoon Adventure Time. Toward the middle of the manuscript I saw Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights and read a lot of Lara Glenum and Aase Berg. I saw Kara Walker’s exhibit at the Art Institute. Her work has had a huge impact on me. I also saw The Purge, and this was feeding into a time when I was beginning to shatter the illusion of respectability politics for myself. I realized that no amount of code-switching or even a degree from one of the top schools in the country could change the fact that I am black. I feel like I was finishing the manuscript during a very tumultuous time. And I mean personally as well as nationally and internationally. I was unemployed and even though I know it’s not the worst thing that’s ever happened to me, it opened the entire Pandora’s box of insecurities that I have about my ability to succeed and just to live the life that I want to live. It was also the first time in almost a decade that I would actually read the news, and it didn’t take me long to remember why I had stopped in the first place. I didn’t feel any justice in the world, only restlessness. I wasn’t sure how I felt about “God” anymore, I saw the ocean for the first time and I was too anxious to put more than a toe in. I spent too much time on Tumblr, read a lot of think pieces online. I was reading All the Garbage of the World Unite!, a graphic novel called Big Questions, Diaz’s This is How you Lose Her. I started getting into anime, at the recommendation of some friends I watched Attack on Titan and Sword Art Online. I watched a lot of documentaries: The Black Power Mixtape, Booker’s Place, Pageant, Paris is Burning, to name a few. I saw Upstream Color and The Skeleton Key. I played all three Mass Effects. Beyoncé released Beyoncé, which I still listen to weekly. Janelle Monae’s Electric Lady, The Roots’s Wise Up Ghost and Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane over the Sea. And Maya Angelou died. Reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings when I was twelve made me feel like someone like me, an economically poor black girl who was experiencing abuse at home, who did not have very many friends besides the books she read could do something great, could have a voice that others would listen to and want to hear. She was my first inspiration.
Rail: Finally, I was so intrigued by the relationship between the body and nature in these poems. By using dreams, you were really able to manipulate the physical landscape to suit the dreamer’s voice. What would you say is your approach to the relationship between body and nature? What are your thoughts about it?
Muphy: I love this question. I find myself obsessed with both bodies and nature, and the way that I feel they are similar beasts. Bodies and nature are permanently imprinted, continuously changed with what they experience. And I feel that they participate in this endless feedback loop. The dreamscape/landscape of the poems is informed by the body of the dreamer. The dreamer in turn is informed by the dreamscape, and moves and acts in relation to what occurs there. It builds and builds. Bodies and nature for me are vessels for bothness. They hold all these contrary forces in tension and harmony within themselves. Cruelty exists alongside justice exists alongside humor exists alongside contemplation exists alongside sensuality and sorrow and on and on. It all takes place in the body, it all takes place in nature, both being finite and endless.
Rail: Now that Dream Machine is out, what is your next project? What are your future plans?
Murphy: Oh goodness. Well this fall I’m applying to MFA programs, and I oscillate between being very ready for that and very nervous. I’m working on planning a reading tour for Dream Machine. I’m halfway finished with a project titled, self portrait. I started it at the same time as Dream Machine but it’s progressed a lot slower. I really like interdisciplinary work so I’m hoping the program I go to will be one that will allow me to continue my practice as a studio artist and social justice involvement.  - Laura Stokes

iii. I woke up damn near in tears. I felt like a startled infant who could not quit crying. I had not started, was stuck like a television between channels on shrooms crawling between the walls. All I remember was Him and the nightmare man had the same twisted, burned down blackface. As I stumbled to the surface of consciousness the last thing–the first thing–after gasping awake–no. The images are chained to that man’s land, the elephant graveyard of my brain. The cling-to, the dried marrow in the bones suckling what is already anemic. I am not your melancholy baby or an atomic sex bomb ready to demolish God’s spoiled children. In a swooping fell my mood. My rare sapphire sickled into soul. My beat is splintered. I walk on shards leafing a loping trail of sap and blood.
22. I was a professional wrestler. I wrestled against Mickey Rourke. I kept winning. I defeated every opponent, all men. Trained in the Brazilian martial arts I was unstoppable. If you crossed me I would nail your sack to the floor and set the whole house on fire leaving you with a rusty butter knife. At day’s end I would drink my beer through a straw. While stroking the peel of a straight banana.
iiiii. In Kansas or Nebraska there are pure salt of the earth vaginas. In a place like Houston the bedazzled vaginas glitter gaudy but you feel them pressed against your back before you see them. The wet rope through the camel’s eye. The lymph pencil in the ear. And if there is tongue or teeth involved, the forecast is clear. Humidity will flirt with your mouth. And if your feet leave the ground, you just know.
89. I wake up searching for you in my tea dregs. You are there. An elephant dancing in a cervical wishbone. You wouldn’t stop kissing me. Your hair was short again and puppy soft. I was afraid to cline too close, to moat too uncoquettishly. Are you on my side? I tried to resist being subduced by your honey vugs. Even so I couldn’t induratize against the force of your cratons digging into my upper arms. My lips stay hopeful, begin to buzz with finfungality, like fruit rotting to be plucked from betwixt branches.
521. The sky heavy gloom could not erupt, picking its way through the room I’m writing in. Window is too opaque for a streetlight’s single glow. Silence leaves you longing, keeps you voice but I want the concomitant pristine chaos of the forest before the flames. The spentday storm never came but I want to tower over the trees. To nibble their parsley montagious tippy tops. Lazarus ruined, dirt dared to flourish ochre mother’s milk but I render the bone soil parrot shrill. I bask in the ashes. I need to be the smoke that thunders. I need to return to the volcano of my genesis.
31. You came to visit me. Barely in the door before our jonquils joined the musicality of ice melting, ink timidly disintegrating. I take pleasure in the pinch of the underwire. I felt all amethyst and emeralded. I let the silence slide and the damp steal beneath my equestrian socks. You broached my Ignation legs and we traveled a skeleton grove of prayers. I’ve never held your canary but I imagine how your innards. You hold me like a bloodstone and I just want to inhale you like cocaine cut with sweat. I keep my virtue close but my vices closer.
9. Does it turn you on? Do you like that? You’ve got the best mouth. I like those tits. You married? Please don’t tell me you don’t got a boyfriend. Where’s your man? Haven’t you ever been in love? Come here. You don’t have to pee, it’s supposed to feel that way. Promise me. If you tell, we’ll get in trouble. If you ever want to touch it–Don’t use your teeth. Did you? I had a dream we went to the movies. She told me she was always jealous of you. I want you. I want you still. I love you. Don’t you need love too? Unless you don’t want to be loved. Can I call you sometime? I can’t get your number? What’s your name baby? Stuck up bitch. Fat bitch. What if I told you I desired you a different way? 

55. Welcome to the dispersed air glimmered with diseases. Crows aghast waterwaysaway to the Himalayas. The new sewageage entombed off the map, soured slid belligerent. Emboldened adventure language shot out naked rats. Monsters skittered their marbles to glue, found Wall Street in West Virginia. Travelers plink and blam their pants suspected steam circled clawed gummy carnival critters. Trumped up wings diatribe. So it clones. You gone behold a moth.
The bared soles of my feet told me the devil would snatch me into hell but under the bed does not exist when the matters sleep on the floor. Why are you ramming my face into my fists? I was fine and this dream is a gleaming down the drain. It is a washed up letter in a bottle baby trashy dopey siren song cooing: remember me the fetal lover you cradle within your skull? I am destroying you.


Husked out hornets are falling out of trees. Damn unicorn gorging on cucumbers and tiger lilies. Watered down grape cocktail in a mason jar weighing down napkins splotched with schizophrenic script. I'm packing you possession on the front porch. You have a big ass for an old man and too much subjunctive protohipster imperforated earlobes. Spread your lids. You have to open your eyes sometime.


I am stalking you. After work you catch a bus to Jackson and when you get under the rude lights of the casino marquee you blush a golden beet pink. You place your beanie babies atop the slot machine. They emit a dead spin plasticity. Happy and poorer than you might think. Aubergine cotton candy hair crawling out of a casket. Death is a deal breaker, full of loud melancholy ricocheting off tabernacles. I cannot stand to be away from you but I cannot absolve you of your sins. I am sorry.


Humming to black and white British people projected optic maroon angels pinching your side burned sunburned love handle. Do the French inhale for me and peel the camel hair shirt from the exquisite corpse of charity. Impressions of and impressionist and impressed I am under every street light shooting cannonballs of fleeting fireflies carouseling at three thirty. Envy is an umbrella against a sandstorm of affection. You rest somewhere between queue and ewe savagely pretentious retrieving letters from the recycled rubble.


Paul: Hi Sade. How do you approach writing a new poem? What kind of work do you typically set out to write?
Sade: I feel like when I start something, it’s usually accidentally. Dream Machine began because I wanted to trick myself into a good writing routine during a residency at the Vermont Studio Center. I’d start my day by writing about the previous night’s dreams over breakfast. It eventually replaced the project that I thought I would start there and grew eight legs and several other healthy appendages. So I guess I stumble into new poems while I’m doing something else. But once I have a concept I’m obsessed with it and I have to work it to completion. So I don’t feel like I typically set out to write anything. But even if I don’t have an intention in that regard I do intend for the poetry to be visceral. I want to write something that makes me feel powerful and effective when I read it. I want to write poems that touch something chaotic and messy without destroying myself in the process. I want, at least for the time being, to write poetry that creates questions and discomfort for people, to make them wonder if they’ve underestimated me.
Paul: Could you say something about the structure of Dream Machine? For me, the rapidity and the weight of the poem’s numbers tugged and propelled me through what felt like a filmic dream archive.
Sade: That’s really well put. So Dream Machine is set up in sections of six poems each and each section is titled Dream Machine of the Decade and then subtitled with a certain kind of number. For instance most of the dream machines on Action, Yes are “Sexy Numbers” or “Prime Numbers”. I have this thing about numbers, so the numbering of the poems is fairly intentional. The numbers are the titles for the poems. But it’s disordered too, the numbers aren’t sequential, they aren’t all there, they’re grouped somewhat subjectively. Ultimately the numbers kind of represent this ideal of structure or order within the realm of Dream Machine, in a way that the order is only meaningful to the imposer of said order.
There exists a sole dreamer spawning the Dream Machine. That dreamer is me… which I feel is important to say because I have a particular position and experiences which inform the things that are able to happen in the Dream Machine. There are also a few recurring characters.
Paul: What primarily influences your use of language and wordplay?
Sade: Eleutheromania. I want freedom. I remember growing up and feeling very policed about what I was allowed to write or think or feel.
People at times have read my poems and felt the need to tell me that I couldn’t use certain words the way that I had used them, or maybe that I hadn’t earned being able to use words the way that I do. And while I’ll probably never be free of that kind of policing, I am bold in my disregard for it. I also feel very deeply about literacy, a love for words and language being closely intertwined with gaining freedom. I loved reading the dictionary as a kid and I still love learning new words and languages. And I tend to be very particular about the words I use in my poems, they have to be exactly right and if I can’t find exactly the right word, then I’ll fuse it together from other words.
Paul: Our daily media landscape is saturated with bodies and various brutalities inflicted onto those bodies. Do you think writers are often discouraged from engaging with violence? Do you think of your own writing as demonstrative of a violent ornateness? If so, what is its intention?
Sade: I’m going to say there have definitely been times where I felt discouraged from engaging with violence, especially when that violence is an experience of personal trauma. I feel like there’s a certain way that I’ve witnessed women or people of color labeled because of the ways their writing has spoken to the experience of violence.
There are ways in which the Dream Machine is my way of getting around that. Being able to speak to the experience of violence and trauma without the danger of having my work reduced to sad black girl poetry, or more politely labeled “heavy”.
Violent ornateness. I don’t want ornate to be confused with superfluous because the violence is necessary, it serves a purpose and isn’t ornamental. I think the Dream Machine takes a very Chaotic Neutral stance when it comes to violence. Violence is a tool, the quality of it is determined by who wields it. I think the function we see played out with the use of violence in the Dream Machine is a landscape ripe with and melding subjective violence, symbolic violence, and systemic violence. Violence isn’t actively sought out, but it occurs. Violence is done to the dreamer and the dreamer does violence to numerous characters throughout the poems.
Paul: What is the function of a body in the Dream Machine?
Sade: I’m of the belief that everything/one in the dream is the dreamer. So part of me feels inclined to say that the only body that exists in the Dream Machine is the dreamer’s body. And the dreamer’s body provides the boundaries for the dreamscape and the parameters for what is allowed to exist in the dreamscape.
Bodies in the dreamscape work outside of the rules. In a way the forms they take are redundant, representative, derivative and idealized. Bodies don’t decay. Perhaps that is part of why the violence is so blatant. Bodies in the dreamscape don’t register pain. Only the body of the dreamer upon waking and even then it’s more of a psychic uneasiness.
There’s also less room for compartmentalization or dualism. Bodies act without the stress of distinguishing between need and compulsion. No guilt, no need to rationalize one’s actions.
Paul: Social media. A writer’s friend or foe?
Sade: Talk about a violent landscape. So I have mixed feelings about social media and it doesn’t have anything to do with being a writer. Something that I really like about social media is the opportunity to build communities and maintain relationships. But fully participating social media also exposes to me a lot of structural violence, so I disengage from it a lot.
Paul: What is your conception of the prose poem?
Sade: So I had no clue how to answer this question. Then my roommate was reading to me from the introduction of Zizek’s Violence. Though I don’t necessarily like dichotomizing prose and poetry I think the prose poem for me has been a great form to use to bring together the “factual truth” and “truthfulness”. Prose poetry, as I use it in Dream Machine, is a description both with and without a place. It is situated within a specific time and space but it also creates a landscape which exists beyond reality. A dream machine is both real and unreal. The prose poem is a form that straddles and I feel like it’s allowed me a lot of freedom in writing Dream Machine.
Paul: Who should we be reading and what attracts you to their writing? Or, better yet, who do you think we’re not reading enough of?
Sade: I hate answering this question, even when friends ask me.
I always feel like I should be reading more women poets, poets of color, queer poets. Subversive poets. Poets I want to read more of: Ai, Chelsey Minnis, Deborah Digges, Will Alexander, Tomaz Salamun, Raul Zurita.
There are three kinds of poetry I read: poetry for base pleasure, poetry for obligation, and poetry that inspires me as a poet. So I’ll share some of the poets who have joined that last category most recently for me: Harryette Mullen, Lara Glenum, Aase Berg translated by Johannes Goransson, Kim Hyesoon translated by Don Mee Choi. I’m not sure how to describe what attracts me to their writing but it probably has something to do with not being able to consume one of their books in a single sitting (not for lack of trying or interest). Their writing is intellectually and linguistically exciting, as well as distressing and confusing, but a seductive confusion. Their poetry does not leave me with neat answers.
Paul: Any new projects? What are you currently working on?

Finishing Dream Machine. I’m roughly a month of neurotic editing away from feeling like I’ve finished it. I have two other unfinished projects. - PAUL CUNNINGHAM

Sade Murphy was born and raised in Houston, TX. She doesn’t have an accent. She attended the University of Notre Dame and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Studio Art. Her studio practice is focused in book arts, printmaking, silk painting and installation art. In 2011 she received a fellowship from the Pavlis Foundation to complete a month long residency at the Vermont Studio Center. She has published one chapbook of poetry, Abandon Childhood, which most likely cannot be found anywhere. Her poetry has been published in Action Yes, joINT, Revolver, and LIT. She has recently completed her first full length manuscript of poetry, Dream Machine, and plans to apply to MFA programs this fall. She currently lives and works in South Bend, IN as an artist and serves as the Artist in Residence at Dismas House, a community focused on the re-entry of the formerly incarcerated.


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