Archive for August, 2014


yes that’s exactly
it — you’d think they would all stay
grounded by the storm —
but here is one brave creature
daring its wings into flight

In my dream I saw an aeroplane taking off into the heart of a fearsome hurricane. When I graduated in 1978, I had a series of dreams in which the Thames had flooded London. I now believe probably my unconscious was trying to alert me to a literal danger. Graduation is a momentous point in a young life. The adult society I was entering had the problem of climate change and sea level rise built into it, even in 1978 — even though nobody knew, back then. Maybe the storm in last night’s dream is also a vision of the future. I have a book on my shelves waiting to be read, called ‘Storms of My Grandchildren’ by James Hansen, the climate scientist who headed NASA’s Goddard Institute for a couple of decades. The bravery of the aeroplane (like Thomas the Tank Engine!) strikes me as symbolic too at a deeper level. The odds are all stacked against me in my emotional interactions with other people, I sometimes feel. The law of my own emotional being (e.g. the need to fly) works exactly contrary to the conditions in which I find myself.



did Uri Geller
really bend spoons with his mind?
— oh leave it alone —
there ought to be a word for
the questionness of asking

In my dream, Geller was a recording artist and I was listening to his Latin funk. My poem strikes me as somewhat clumsy. Yet I have often thought there ought to be a (Latin?) word for ‘the questionness of asking’, and this is the best I am likely to manage in terms of getting across what I mean. Our minds are chock full of questions all the time. Questions are really basic to how our minds work. And yet who has ever asked what a question is? Sounds ridiculously abstract. But we just accept there is this state of mind that we fall into, called a ‘question’. Finding out the meaning of that state of mind seems to me more important than getting ‘answers’ to the ‘questions’. Every question is a koan I guess.


despite my judgements
of taste — stark reality
doesn’t budge one inch

Had trouble remembering my dreams last night, but eventually remembered 2 things. A training course that wasn’t deemed suitable or satisfactory, and a mild conflict of opinion on the subject of an aunt of mine. Someone deemed her friendliness a pretence. Ironically enough, I am involved with delivering a training course at work which encourages people to be ‘non-judgemental’ when faced with so-called symptoms of mental illness. I was thinking a few days ago about that term ‘non-judgemental’ and wishing I could put my finger on what troubles me about it. Somehow we need to make judgements continually about everything in order to exist. Maybe the judgements themselves are part of the given reality. 


after all the grief
has been wept — what remains is
an empty vessel

Music. Money. Relationships. These were the themes which I could have used in order to make a poem this morning out of my dreams last night. But this poem came instead. I’ve no idea where from. Maybe because a colleague confessed to me yesterday that she had managed to lose £450 cash. Was she looking to me for comfort? Is this poem my way of offering her the comfort I was unable to offer her yesterday? This would make sense. I woke thinking about a girl I used to know in the seventies. I thought to myself ‘I loved her’, which was a complete surprise to me, forty years after the event. Maybe that kind of love is safe enough to be thought of in relation to the colleague at work yesterday. There are so many different kinds of love. Love is such a scary word.


less than a loser —
the only prize worth having
is what no-one wants

I was writing haiku in my sleep last night — as well as apparently driving in a car race, up to the point where the race authorities informed me that I was disqualified. The reason was to do with the fact that I have a criminal record (which is true in reality). I do possess a certain singlemindedness in life. But it isn’t of the right sort for being an ‘achiever’ in the conventional sense, like winning a race.


witchcraft is no more
nor less than the plain fact of
a man’s ignorance

My dream last night involved learning to mix a magic potion. The ingredients were very particular and my teacher was a woman. My poem is the best I can do with this. It doesn’t really get across anything of the decades I spent, in my own life, battling a sense of paranoia where women are concerned.

black and pink

what is it about
monotheism provokes
men so easily
to war? — the many faces
in conflict, of the One God

Anti-semitism. Some footballer on the TV yesterday protesting: ‘I’m not an antisemitic’. Howard Jacobson — my idol, the best columnist in Britain — I dreamed of trying and failing to hook up with him. And several other Jews whose achievements or friendship I have valued. Dannie Abse, whose nephew I knew at school. What’s happening in Gaza. In Iraq and Syria. 3 religions all agree there is 1 God, but cannot agree about anything else. Is this irony or something altogether darker? Repressed homosexuality for instance…. The patriarchal One God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam enshrines the male as the source of all good. What else is this but disguised phallus worship? Maybe if this were explicit, men might feel less urge to massacre one another.