Archive for July, 2014


this urban landscape
deserves better than to be
proved insubstantial

Half a dozen stones which I was trying to manhandle into some kind of barrier or dam on the tarmac of a road. The idea was that I knew there was going to be a current of water sweeping down the road, and the stones would somehow break the current. So I was a kind of engineer, struggling with some very basic technology. Awake, I fell to thinking of stones as the building blocks of civilisation. Cities are both more transient and more alive than we tend to realise. As a homeless person in the eighties and nineties, I related to London in particular, very much in personal terms. It was like a personal relationship.



the hunted man feeds
hungrily upon his own
murderous instincts

I dreamed I was at the house of a friend. Outside the house was surrounded with men intent upon killing me, but I knew, or suspected, that there was a direct relationship between whether they broke into the house, to murder me, and whether I was able to control my own mind and desires. I had to be able to let go of desire. Both the dream and the poem are influenced by what little I know about Melanie Klein’s theory of ‘object relations’ (a branch of psychoanalysis).

terror threat

fragile, so fragile —
what we are, how we live, our
very existence

I dreamed of a huge explosion in an urban area, just across the street from me. I’d describe my response as ‘shock and awe’. In another part of the dream, I was playing chess with my stepmother, but we were each sitting behind our opponents’ pieces rather than behind our own (playing our own pieces from the opposite side of the board towards ourselves). What a vivid symbol of the effort to see things from another’s point of view! Last night on Channel 4 News, a Jewish writer named Jake Wallis Simons talked amazingly eloquently about the fact that Britain was responsible for the deaths of tens or hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq when no-one from that country had attacked Britain even slightly. He was defending Israel’s actions in Palestine. First time ever I’ve been impressed by a defence of Israel’s actions in Palestine. So no wonder I dream of being on the receiving end of shock and awe.

or woman

certain mysteries
are closed forever — such as
why a man accepts
powerlessness, victimhood
and psychiatric treatment

Lately I’ve been noticing that each morning’s effort to shape a poem out of my dreams seems more and more like a confrontation with some vast enormity, impossible to fathom. Something too big to comprehend. The human situation perhaps. Or the unconscious. Maybe every so-called mental illness is a confrontation of this sort. And maybe that’s why psychiatry defeats its patients. The patient says: ‘I am the problem’. And psychiatry says: ‘Yes, you are the problem.’ The dialogue gets no further. It’s an acting out of the defeat of man by the hugeness of his own universe. It will never get beyond acting out, as long as one party in the dialogue (psychiatry) remains unable to acknowledge its own vulnerability, its own defeat, its own powerlessness.


unmet need — the world
is an ocean full of it
— no wonder we dream

Dreams are clearly born of unmet need, and anyone who attempts dream-analysis along Freudian or Jungian lines is essentially a beachcomber picking up detritus on the beach, handling it gingerly, wondering if it has any value at all or is it just rubbish. Sex again in my last night’s dream. And regrets over a lost friendship.

Dead Bird Project


deliver me from
the illusion of control
— render me helpless

It’s depressing how much pornography and sex there seems to be in my dream life. It’s almost enough to suggest Freud may have been right after all, about sexual desire or ‘libido’ as being the fundamental force of psychic life. But no. That’s a kind of tunnel vision. In my dream I was desperately disappointed to find that a certain basement underground area which used to be devoted to the sex industry, had been cleaned up and was now full of wholesome commerce. Some part of me felt determined to seek out the sordid. Sexual desire is, though, only one among very many powerful psychic forces. Really, however you look at it, we are at the mercy of our own psyche.