Archive for September, 2014


a deep fear, seated
at the very core of me
— that I’m a coward

I often have trouble choosing a title. But I like this one. My dream last night really did make me feel scared of feeling scared. And I don’t think you can gaze steadily at such a phenomenon without coming to the conclusion that it’s a mirage. I was trying to comfort a previous lover who’d found out he was HIV positive. I knew in my heart of hearts that I wanted to die with him — to share everything, even the HIV coursing through his veins. Too scared though. So I opted for the chaste hug.



the scariest thing
on earth — my own desire for
infinite power

I googled ‘cult’ after completing this poem. Apparently, in Latin, ‘cult-‘ is the past participle of the verb ‘colere’ meaning to inhabit, to cultivate or to worship. I love the idea that, by cultivating the soil, we are worshipping it. And then I suppose ‘culture’ would be a kind of collective worship, too. And to cultivate a friendship with someone is to turn them deliberately into a god or goddess. To magnify their good points and diminish their faults. And we expect this kind of support from our own friends. Why?

I dreamed I was leader of a cult. What more sinister dream imaginable, ever? And yet the dream left me feeling good about myself. Surely this ought to undermine the very notion of feeling good about oneself? The only logical conclusion would be that so-called ‘positive thinking’ can be a very dangerous kind of storytelling. Or alternatively, I could reject any knee-jerk condemnation of leaders of cults. Or again, thirdly, I could simply choose to tolerate the contradiction.


I have found there is
only one way out of hell
— and that is downwards

Annoyingly, I forgot a very long, powerful dream last night and the only thing at all remaining in my memory is the figure of Albert Einstein. I have dreamed of Einstein before, when I was in Israel 1983-84. Einstein is a kind of god when he appears in my dreams. I don’t have the brain to grasp relativity, and am attracted as much by his shaggy appearance as by whatever smattering of relativity I’ve managed to pick up through TV programmes etc. My first draft of this poem played with the idea that if you fall into the category divine, best thing is just to keep falling. Israel was a kind of hell for me, just because of where I was in my inner journey at the time. Lucifer was a kitten on the kibbutz where I volunteered.

trick of ignorance

sometimes, survival
depends upon unlearning
your knowledge and skill

I dreamed of playing the French horn. Back in the eighties and nineties, this was a dream I had again and again. Learning an orchestral instrument takes a lot of hard work and discipline, which is bound to leave its mark on the psyche. Since I haven’t played a French horn since 1979, it’s also bound to make me wonder what possible use or relevance those skills are now. I wanted to use this poem to challenge the way we take the usefulness of our own skills for granted. Poetry is a skill of course.


for all of my life —
incomprehension between
me and my father
— or does he understand me
perfectly well after all?

This captures the flavour of my dream quite well. My father had given me a birthday or Christmas present consisting of two old typewriters, both of which belonged to me anyway. As I struggled to grasp the significance of this gift, I was left with the strangest feeling as though he was deliberately trying to teach me something. The lesson itself was beyond me to grasp, but for once I felt able to recognise the painful fact that I have spent my whole life blundering like a blind man, and that my father might have clearer sight.


bless him, how he tries —
his face shines with the light of
profound foolishness

I think I spent yesterday at work somehow trying too hard. I was on my own in the office. So much for working without supervision. In my dream, although I was wearing a monk’s robes, I was in fact a guest at the monastery. My companion on the other hand was clearly recognisable as a monk just from the way he smiled.

Many years ago at the height of my ‘psychosis’ when I was homeless and paranoid, believing I was being followed by nuclear scientists from NASA, I stumbled into the beautiful parish church of Much Wenlock in Shropshire and stayed for Evensong. The priest used a well known blessing at the end of the service which moved me profoundly. I have never forgotten it. It’s from the Old Testament.

“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.”’


if only the Pope
could tell us how it feels to
be Pope — but he can’t

When it comes to human psychology, I believe scientific objectivity is a delusion. Whereas subjectivity is the greatest of all the blessings endowed on us by being alive. I dreamed I was in a museum with Freud (that fake scientist) who was waxing poetic about how a dream is a gift from the patient to the analyst. Also, I was inquiring in a shop for a biography of a certain Pope. Led me to reflect, awake, that it sometimes seems as though there is a ban on subjectivity in public life. Or a taboo. You might think that religion exalts subjectivity. I suppose it does. Maybe what I’m trying to say is, that we project the subjectivity we daren’t experience for ourselves, onto our public figures. The last thing we let them be is themselves.