Archive for February, 2015


deadly enemies,
best friends — relationships both
seeming to arrive
from nowhere, fully formed, as
though created outside time

Do we really write the script of our own lives? Who knows. If so, it must be some part of me beyond myself. I slept nearly twelve hours last night. Oversleeping can befuddle the dreamlife with too many forgotten dreams. But I seem to remember three dreams dimly. Two of the dreams involved women with whom I have felt myself in a relationship of enmity. One was my manager at work in 2010. The other was my stepmother’s mother. The third dream involved staring into a woman’s eyes in the knowledge that either she or I, or more likely both of us, were aliens. This was felt to be a positive. In terms of the poem, the alien suggests that realm of the completely unknown where friendships and enmities are decided. My stepmother’s mother died twenty years ago, but a few months ago I had a dream in which we had forgiven each other. In last night’s dream, I was embracing my erstwhile manager and realising the only thing that made any sense was for us to sleep together. I am always interested in finding the potential for friendship buried in an enmity. Maybe at some level they are simply the same thing. Empedocles had some interesting things to say about this.



blunt, I even cultivate
bluntness — unable
or unwilling to see through
my own confusion of soul

This strange little poem relates only distantly to last night’s dreams. I dreamed I was cooking the filling of a samosa and trying to get it tender enough. Awake, I thought of tenderness in the emotional sense. The dream might suggest somehow a deliberate cultivation of tenderness. I started thinking about my own emotional life, and my emotional characteristics. I feel blunt in relation to most people. I don’t ever seem to ‘get’ the skilful fluidity between tenderness and viciousness which social banter involves. Or if I do, my efforts continually fall flat in a galumphing way.


Moses ascends Mount
Sinai and all around him
the desert whispers
futility — oh Moses,
if only you had listened!

The poem took futility as its starting point. Same old, same old: futility, defeat, inadequacy. These are the emotions I feel, faced with the task of extracting meaning from a dream into a poem. The poem began to germinate with the idea that the futility is something positive. It’s an opportunity for seeing beyond the obvious. In my dream, I saw a photo of a rock-strewn path up a mountain, which I knew to be Mount Sinai. I recognised it from when I climbed Mount Sinai in 1984. Awake, I thought of Moses, and also of Heraclitus who pointed out that the way up a mountain is the same as the way down (thus demonstrating the unity of opposites). Comparing Moses and Heraclitus, it struck me that Moses could really have learned something from Heraclitus. I suppose my poem ends up finally as being all about patriarchy and purposefulness. The undermining of purpose by futility is a good thing, if it makes us stop and discover a more nuanced outlook. There’s nothing very nuanced about the Ten Commandments.


Cambridge — where I learned
complete dissociation
from my emotions

I dreamed Prince Charles was in disguise, which he had to be, in order to take part in the life of the commoners. Awake, I remembered that he attended Cambridge University, and that yesterday I encountered some surprise when I inadvertently disclosed that I was Cambridge-educated. Not that that is any secret. I suppose Prince Charles in disguise suggested ‘somebody who can’t be themselves’. I like the simplicity of this poem, even if it’s a bit sweeping, it’s also true.

I can learn

flow — adaptation —
slow growth — friendliness towards
my own becoming

This poem’s optimism ignores the inconvenient fact that there are limits to the capacity for new growth and limits to the capacity for learning. But generally I’m not someone who can be accused of too much optimism, so I’m pleased to have written it. My dream involved a long, spontaneous, and very relaxed and natural, process of shitting a turd. I am currently in Durham on business with a colleague. The poem describes the lessons I often feel I am learning from her.


the height of daring —
a lunchtime chamber music
concert in Oxford
— seize the moment, throw caution
to the winds, let your hair down

In the dream, I was guilty of abusing a position of trust, by engaging in a sexual relationship with a disabled client of an organisation I work for. I was not conscious of any guilt in the dream, in fact it was the best thing ever to happen to me. I might add that, in the dream, the client’s disability was cured by the sex. But my old English teacher from school (in real life a severe, Oxford-educated matriarch who seemed to regard me as something of a star pupil) was concerned that my academic work would suffer if I took time off to go to a lunchtime concert with the disabled client. I was quite determined to defy her though. Seems ironic that all my conscious energies in the dream were concentrated on asserting this daring step of attending a lunchtime concert. Meanwhile, the outrageous daring of having enjoyed committing an act of sexual abuse went unnoticed. These themes are pertinent to a task I’ve scheduled for myself today: to insert a short section of new writing into a talk I’ll be giving tomorrow about my paranoid beliefs. I want to show how they had their roots in my experience of sexual abuse by a peer at the age of fourteen.


it would be better
left completely alone — why
attempt any kind
of illumination, when
the darkness is so easy?

Back to the theme of my own total inadequacy. I am kicking against the self-imposed duty of examining my dreams each morning and extracting a poem from them. I had two dreams. In one I was in bed with my sister; in the other I had designs on another man’s wife. I don’t know how to make incest and adultery palatable or even meaningful.