how shall I live with
the hatefulness of the herd
and turn it to love?

I’m reading Charles Nicholl’s The Chemical Theatre. It’s about the influence of alchemy in Shakespeare (particularly King Lear, the play about madness which I did for A level). Some alchemical thinking seems to have crept into my poem this morning. I dreamed of queueing at the dole office after watching Ian Duncan Smith on Channel 4 News last night. At the moment my own employment prospects are very much up in the air as a decision is made by my employers whether to keep me on after 31.3.15. From long experience, dole queues can often seem like pools of hatefulness, and yet actually it was the queue at Tesco that gave me this poem. In the dream, I had reached finally the front of the queue and was talking with the dole officer, but I lost my spot by dashing away for a minute to do something else. Awake, I recalled that in Tesco yesterday, I nearly took someone else’s place at the check out when they had in fact just dashed to the shelves to get an extra item. It all fell into place. What does a dole queue have in common with a Tesco queue? The hatefulness of the herd, queueing up to be fed. There was also a tender and affectionate horse somewhere in my dreams last night: hence ‘herd’ isn’t entirely negative.


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