portion of the artwork for Louie Land's poetry

I dreamed the ocean froze solid: Five Poems
Louie Land


I dreamed the ocean froze solid
The waves smoothed into glass
We leaked pocketfuls of sand from our fingers
so not to slip on the slick
When we lost the beach to the horizon
and the curve of the Earth
we broke the ice and slipped into blue

Rolling waves and undertows
suspended in motion
tunnels to crawl through
I wanted to paint a picture of frozen flounder
but you said
it seems cruel
to keep them this way


I dreamed the ocean froze solid
We lifted a hatch in the ice
dropped a flare flaming red
down the long chute to the bottom
painting the walls scarlet
We slipped down a brass fireman’s pole
I thought we were descending
into the heart of the sun

As we walked the bottom
you carried the flare over your head
and warmed my bones

We baked bread in the thermal vents
and the ocean was cinnamon and flour and yeast
With sea shells we scooped ice cream from the walls
carved free chunks from the ceiling
boiled them into saltwater taffy
The flare burned in the center of your eyes
as we ghosted through
the ice


I dreamed the ocean froze
But only at the top
crystals crisscrossed into a crust
We guessed the water
seeped through the sea floor
and boiled away in the core
The sunlight sang through
the sky in spotlight shards

We slipped sawdust down the chutes
chimneys of the thermal vents
and blew thunderclouds into being from the smoke
They clung to the underside of the ice
like swarms of black spiders

You said you were afraid
of the storm we’d brewed of ourselves
I tossed the flare
to scatter the spider nest
but couldn’t burn smoke with flame
The flare grazed the ice
and rain fell from the thunderclouds
oily on our skin
greasy on our tongues


I dreamed the ocean froze
Above the crystal crust
clouds shifted and sunlight beat the frosted skin
The ceiling thawed        retracted        refroze
Rain dripped into icicles from the edges
We caught the drops on our foreheads
and watched the sky breathe

I sat on the sandy floor
and carved a circle round myself
with the arm of a starfish
to protect myself in case the icicles fell

With your back to me
you ate the bread we’d baked
and painted the sky
with crushed coral mixed with spit
and the blade of your finger
on a rock smoothed by the current
Breadcrumbs lost themselves amidst the sand grains

While we were still young
I asked
Do you believe
where we are?

You turned and said
Or together?


I dream the ocean freezes solid
I can see to the bottom
through silver tuna schools
to coral mountains

I wonder
if the suspended sea turtles
are hibernating
or dead

and below I see you and me
baking bread
and I see the hearth
we’d made
of thermal vents
and I see the red flare
but so very far away

My hands are claws
and I dig at the ice
and tear free chunks
and my white t-shirt
sticks to the small
of my back
and I am still miles
from baking bread
though I taste
the salt
of phantom butter

I stop to breathe
The sweat on my skin

Louie Land’s Comments

These poems began as nothing more than play on a page, unbound (at first) by intention or concept except to enter into a dream mode. The image of a frozen ocean arrived almost immediately and my intent became to explore the image as fully as possible. At the time, I was working on a book-length manuscript of poetry and a recurring theme was the evaluation of relationships. The other poems in the manuscript were very concrete and driven by narrative and a sense of realism. These pieces marked a departure from that straightforward narrative mode and into, indeed, a more dream-like environment. Though they are featured here one after the other, in the manuscript they do not appear in close proximity to one another. It is my hope that they function as a recurring dream, a frequent reexamination and re-envisioning of the relationships featured in the manuscript. The last piece, “Dream,” appears as the penultimate poem in the collection; as it helps to close the manuscript, in a way it says “this is a dream of where that relationship ends up.”

My thanks to FRiGG, and especially to Ellen, for providing these poems with a home.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 42 | Fall 2013