Amputation Dream

Amputation Dream

I dreamt I lost my right hand,

a mysterious amputation

while sitting in my chair

half asleep and dreaming

and in this dream within a dream

my hand was suddenly not there,

a painless evaporation

of an old friend

leaving my left hand

alone and searching

with blind fingers and nailed tears

for its departed twin.


what is the sound of one hand …?


…a silent scream in sinister solitude,

left behind and grieving

though only a helper before,

a practical auxiliary,

holding while the right sliced,

patient while the right painted,

entangled in pillows

while the right caressed

the ecstasies of night.


dance partner gone

ten now halved

the ship veers to port


how will I now applaud brilliance?

how will I now make art or write?

how will I now be a lover?

fold laundry or reel a fish?

how will I now be symmetrical?


I breathe uselessness

through an empty sleeve.


acrylic painting and poem by clinock.


20 thoughts on “Amputation Dream

  1. Powerful painting……powerful poem…….powerful dream. I’m drawn to seach for the meaning of the experience. Several are suggested and some are crazy. But one that might make sense is……… If one has lost recently a colleague or friend on whom one counted, one maybe dreams of the loss of the right hand. Also suggests loss of an ability, power or property….. Apparently it is a common dream.
    Of course regardless of the meaning you have turned it into ART……..well done!


    1. Thanks Robert and thank you for your possible interpretations…I’ve been thinking about meanings also, some connected to yours, others personal…most of my dreams dissolve on waking but some remain so strong that they insist on entering my art…


  2. What a master you are with both, words and paint. Amputation, even a dream about it, must be a horrible experience. I read somewhere that dreams don’t really have a general meaning, but can only be interpreted by the dreamer himself. So the answer to what the meaning is, must be somewhere in your mind.


    1. You are too kind Ina, thank you. Strangely this dream wasn’t horrible at all, more filled with a neutral curiosity and a deep concern for my left hand losing its life long partner. I’ve heard that too, about dreams, and I believe that I found the answer during the process of painting the dream and am now at peace with it…


  3. Wow, John! Thank you for sharing (what I feel is) such an intensely personal experience.
    It strikes me as quite an enigma… I’ve thought a lot about what I would do if I ever completely lose my eyesight; that prospect evokes a clear sense of despair for me…. But I could turn to sculpture or spoken word… I’ve dreamed many times of not being able to speak, and my response is almost always (in the dream) panic! (Totally visceral…)
    To lose one hand, as an artist, seems far more complicated, and your poem conveys this powerfully to me. It feels like it would perhaps be a constant challenge to discover and define what to take on henceforth…
    I’ll be thinking of this one for a while!


    1. Leslee, lovely to see you again and thank YOU for your thoughtful insights. I think I would rather lose my right hand than my sight, I’m sure I could train myself to use the other hand quite well, whereas if I was unable to see I’m not sure if I would be capable of even making sculpture. Thank the gods it was only a dream…On this subject, have you ever seen a movie from the ’80s called “My Left Foot”? A man’s only functional limb, with which he becomes an amazing painter, poet and author…


  4. I wonder what this means (in terms of a dream). It sounds like something profound. And “…I breathe uselessness…through an empty sleeve…” is very strong imagery…again I wonder about the meaning. You have interpreted it poetically with meaningful & strong images. Very intriguing John. I wonder what this heralds. & the painting is like pottery. Empty in that place but solid all around. Fascinating.


    1. That “pottery” and sculptural feeling was very present in the dream and I wanted to bring it out in the painting, happy you noticed. Through my words I tried to express my remembered emotions in the dream which mostly consisted of empathy for the hand left behind, and also to express my immediate thoughts on waking. Thank you as always Steven for your perceptions, thoughts and questions…


    1. Ah Marina, thank you so much my friend, your comments are always filled with beauty. Yes, you are right, it seems like a nightmare but was actually more a brief journey into wonder…


  5. I’ve returned a number of times to look at your painting and each time I am drawn to the eyes. One appears with optics …perhaps for a closer look? It certainly engages with the viewer. The other eye though…the rest of the painting seems to capsize into the boundlessness of space. The head, its shape and features, is full of mystery.

    It’s an exciting painting filed with clues and layers. It’d be interesting, I think, to reflect on your initial poetic response later as the painting reveals itself more.

    I love that you share your work John.


    1. Jana, thank you..ah yes, the eyes…the right seems to echo the concavity of the missing hand while the left appears as a part of the organic background growth as well as the life of the remaining hand. The head wanted to be more animal than human, somewhat cat like but feral. “clues and layers” I like a lot, deepening the mystery. Sharing the work is what it’s all about and it’s double the pleasure when it results in conversations like this…


  6. Sometimes I lose a limb in the midst of sleep. I wake up and my whole arm, left or right, is dead under my body and for moments I think there is a cold, dead limb beneath me. It always wakes up eventually, with pins and needles. Ramachandran wrote a book in the late 90s about people who lose a limb and for the rest of their lives, deal with the horrible pain from it – phantom limbs. Has always intrigued me…random thoughts.


    1. Fascinating Sam, much to think about in your comment. Could my dream have simply been caused by sleeping on my hand I wonder? I never considered that …no deep symbolism or Freudian analysis need apply! Although, as you say, I would have felt it returning to life after I woke and didn’t. Phantom limbs…wow I had no idea the effects were so lasting, imagine living with pain that isn’t but is. Thank you for contributing such interesting “random thoughts.’..


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